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Richard Clay & Sons, 
bread street hill, london, 

Jinngnj/, Suffolk. 


This volume is a reprint of Studies in Ancient 
History as published in 1876, with notes added only 
where they appeared to be indispensable. It is pro- 
posed to follow it up with a second volume containing 
other writings of the author — writings for the most 
part hitherto unpublished, and prepared for a work 
which was left unfinished — from which it will be 
possible to gather, in a considerable measure at least, 
how far the author's views had grown or been de- 
veloped, how far they had changed or been added to, 
subsequently to the appearance of Primitive Marriage. 
It seemed best therefore to attempt no statement about 
this at present. And there was equal reason against 
doing the same thing fragmentarily in notes. The notes 
have accordingly been confined to certain matters on 
which the author had announced a change of view ; 
and to some others — e.g. Mr. Morgan's speculations — 
where circumstances had made an additional statement 


imperative. No better opportunity could occur, how- 
ever, for doing what (as appears from the Preface to 
the former edition) the author had felt to be very 
desirable — making a pretty full collection of examples 
of the form of capture ; and this has been done in the 
Appendix to Primitive Marriage, upon the basis of a 
collection which the author published in 1866. The 
examples thus brought together suffice, at least, to show 
an extraordinary diflfusion for this marriage custom. 

A reminder may be given that Primitive Marriage 
was a first essay in a new field, and that the author 
(always hoping to be able either to supplement or 
supersede it) never revised it with a view to freeing 
it from defects that are unavoidable in such a 
case. There is, therefore (to say nothing of more im- 
portant things) a minor proposition or two, casually 
laid down and unrelated to the main purpose of the 
book, which he probably would not have repeated. 
There are cases, no doubt, in which he would have 
amended his language ; sometimes for exactness' sake, 
and sometimes on account of misconceptions which he 
had not foreseen as possible. There are cases, too, in 
which, with the fuller knowledge he subsequently had, 
he would have supplemented, or amended, or re- 
arranged his facts — and, indeed, our knowledge of gome 


barbarous and savage peoples has been much enlarged 
since 1865. There is nothing, however, he could have 
added to or varied in the facts which would have 
much affected the argument of the book ; and, for the 
peoples whose customs are most likely to be helpful in 
reasoning about early societies, the facts will be gone 
into pretty fully in the projected volume already 
spoken of. 

Of misapprehensions as to his language there is one 
which should be noticed here. This is a misapprehen- 
sion as to the words exogamy and endogamy. These 
terms were introduced on account of two particular 
things — two laws relating to marriage — for each of 
which a name seemed to be wanted. One of these 
laws, when at its widest, forbids marriage between all 
persons of the same blood-connection or kindred — 
whether such kindred forms a local tribe by itself ; or 
whether it is one of several different kindreds which 
together form a local tribe ; or whether (as often 
happens) it occurs, along with other kindreds, as an 
element in more than one local tribe. This law was, 
when Primitive Marriage was written, unnamed ; and 
the author termed it exogamy. It is not prohibition 
of marriage between persons of the same tribal com- 
munity because of tribesmanship, or of anything that 


is necessarily involved in tribesmanship. When at its 
widest, it is prohibition of marriage between all persons 
recognised as being of the same blood, because of their 
common blood — whether they form one community, or 
part only of a community, or parts of several com- 
munities ; and, accordingly, it may prevent marriage 
between persons who (though of the same blood) are 
of diflFerent local tribes, while it frequently happens 
that it leaves persons of the same local tribe (but who 
are not of the same blood) free to marry one another. 
Such is this law, and aU the author had to do was to 
find a name for it ; the sense of the term was not in 
his choice. That it was convenient the law should 
have a name will scarcely be disputed. Whether the 
term exogamy might have been applied with more 
propriety to something else is, no doubt, a different 
matter ; but that to which, whether by choice or 
through misconception, some later writers have applied 
it, does not seem to be much in need of any special 
name. The second marriage law for which a name 
was wanted, allows marriage only between persons who 
are recognised as being of the same blood-connection 
or kindred ; and if, where it occurs, it confines marriage 
to the tribe or community, it is because the tribe 
regards itself as comprising a kindred. This law the 


author termed endogamy ; and here again it is not 
his choice, but the nature of the law which had to be 
named, which makes the term as proposed by him 
inapplicable to local tribes in general. For the law 
occurs in those local tribes only which regard them- 
selves as one blood, and restrict intermarriage to men 
and women of the tribe because of their blood ; and 
it need not be said what a multitude of tribes are 
known in which those two conditions are not combined. 
The tribes which do present them are numerous enough 
nevertheless, to make it inconvenient that their marriage 
law should have no name. No doubt there is again 
the question whether the term proposed might not 
have been applied with more propriety to something 
else ; but that to which some later writers have applied 
it might be left unnamed — even with advantage. For 
they have used endogamy to denote the mere fact 
that marriages occur between persons belonging to the 
same local tribe ; thereby combining under one name 
the results in working of the marriage law last spoken 
of, with certain of the results of the marriage law 
which had been named exogamy — things which, being 
of different origin and of entirely different significance, 
it seems best to study apart from one another. With 
the uses to which the two words, exogamy and 


endogamy, have been turned, moreover, marriage laws 
have been forgotten altogether. 

In so far as this has been the result of miscon- 
ception, the author must have been in fault, no doubt. 
It seems, nevertheless, to be made perfectly clear in 
Primitive Marriage that it was two marriage laws he 
found in want of names, and that it was for them he 
proposed the terms exogamy and endogamy. 

The notes written for this edition are distinguished 
from the author's notes by being inclosed in brackets — 
the notes on Mr. Morgan's system being also placed at 
the end of the Essay to which they refer. 

D. McLennan. 

San Remo, A'pril 1886. 


[Bated 20th January, 1876.] 

I SHOULD have brought out a new edition, of 
Primitive Marriage long since had it not been my 
purpose to supersede it by a more comprehensive work, 
— a purpose defeated by circumstances, which have, 
for several years past, and till within the last few 
months, made literary work impossible for me. I now 
bring out a reprint, because the book, which has long 
been rare, is, for a work of its class, much in request ; 
and because, though I am again free to resume the 
studies necessary for its revision, it is uncertain whether 
I could soon revise it in a satisfactory manner — so that 
I am without an answer to representations made to me, 
that it is better it should be made accessible to students 
with its imperfections than that it should remain in- 
accessible to them. I have done this the more readUy 
that, on the whole, I still adhere to the conclusions I 
had arrived at more than eleven years ago, on the 

xii PEE FACE. 

various matters which are discussed in Primitive 


With a little trouble, I might make a paper on 
examples of the form of capture, which I published in 
the Argosy in 1866, take the place of Chapter II. But 
that would be to depart from the idea of a reprint ; 
and, besides, the paper I refer to has itself ceased to be 
complete, so many examples of the form have since 
been collected. The speculation is accordingly reissued 
with the rather meagre list of cases which originally 
prompted me to it.^ 
^ With Primitive Marriage I reprint a paper on 
Kinship in Ancient Greece, which was published in 
April and May, 1866, in the Fortnightly Review. It 
is the result of a special research to test, in the case of 
the Greeks, the correctness of the scheme of the evo- 
lution of systems of kinship propounded in Primitive 
Marriage, and was undertaken on a challenge from 
Mr. Gladstone, who believed that the scheme was 
inconsistent with Homeric facts. The reader will 
judge how far the evidence supports my views. I 
think myself that the case is made out to such an 

1 [The contents of the paper referred to in this paragraph 
have, in this edition, been included in the Appendix to PrimUive 

PREFACE. xiii 

order of probability as to demand an answer ; and 
that, having regard to this case alone, Sir Henry 
Maine, and others who agree with him, are no longer 
entitled to say, that the proposition that kinship 
through mothers only preceded kinship through fathers, 
rests upon the observation of scattered savage com- 
munities of other than Aryan race. 

I hope yet to be able to throw some fresh light 
on the structure of the primitive human groups by 
an induction of the facts of Totemism, and exact 
analysis of the conditions under which Totemism 
arose. What I have already written on this subject 
of Totemism will be found in a brief article on 
Totemism in Chambers's Encyclopcedia, published in 
1867 ; and in a series of articles on "The Worship 
of Animals and Plants," published in the Fortnightly 
Review in the numbers for October and November, 
1869, and for February, 1870.' ^A proof of the isola- 
tion and independence of the original stock groups, 

1 By a misprint, or slip of the pen, no doubt, Sir John Lubbock 
is made to state in the third edition of his Origin of Civilization 
(footnote, p. 252), that the articles above mentioned appeared 
" since the last," i.e. the second, edition of that book. The words 
should have been " before the first." The first edition of the Origin 
of Civilization was published in 1870, some time after the last of 
the series of articles referred to had appeared. The preface to the 
-first edition of the Origin of Civilization bears date February, 1870. 


while as yet the idea of stock alone had appeared 
as the germ from which systems of kinship were 
destined to be evolved, will add fresh interest to the 
discussion of the influence of exogamy and female 
kinship on the progress of civilization.^ 
;^ The Essays which follow Kinship in Ancient Greece 
are here published for the first time, and, taken to- 
gether, are of the nature of a criticism of the principal 
works treating of early marriage law that have come 
to my knowledge, or been published, since Primitive 
Marriage appeared. These are — Professor B achofen'g . 
Das Mutterrecht, Mr. L, H. Morgan/s__work On the 
Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human 
Family, and, lastly. Sir John Lu bbock's Origin of 
Civilization. The account I have to give of the origin 
of the classificatory system of relationships forms the 
most important portion of the new matter ; and next 
to this in interest will be found, I think, the explana- 
tion I offer of the fourfold division of the ancient Irish 
family, which Sir Henry Maine, in his recent work 
on Early Institutions, has, in my opinion, failed to 
account for. These Essays were originally intended 
to serve as an Introduction to the reprint of Primitive 
Marriage. Their scope and bulk making them un- 
suitable for that service, I issue them in their present 


form, and I have given the book a title suited to its 
varied contents. It will be perceived that I have 
not included Darwin's Descent of Man amongst the 
works I have noticed. "-'Having carefully studied all 
that this great thinker has had to say of the primitive 
state, I feel that I must postpone the consideration of 
his views tiU after tbe completion of fresh investigations, 
the chief of which, relating to Totemism, I have already 
referred to.v' The excellent work, Les Origines de la 
Famille, by Professor A. Giraud-Teulon, of the Uni- 
versity of Geneva — welcome as a proof that the study 
of early history makes progress on the Continent — 
raises no questions which I have felt called on to dis- 
cuss in the present volume. Of the series of remarkable 
articles recently published in the Nuova Antologia 
(Florence, 1875-7'6), which bring to bear on the primi- 
tive state of man facts respecting the various " family " 
systems existing throughout the animal world, it must 
suffice to say here that they will have to be well con- 
sidered by any writer who shall hereafter treat of the 
origin of the Family among men.^ 

1 [Two paragraphs which followed, bearing upon the appearance 
of the form of capture in connection with endogamy — a matter 
fully discussed in Primitive Marriage — are omitted, as having 
served the purpose for which they were written.] 


Extract from the Preface to the Original Edition 

of " Primitive Marriage." 

[Jan., 1865.] 

In the course of some inquiries which I had been 
making into the early history of civil society, the 
meaning and origin of the form of capture in marriage 
ceremonies fell to be investigated. The subject being in 
itself curious, as well as obscure, and one which has 
never hitherto, so far as I am aware, been handled, I 
venture to lay the result of my investigation before the 
public, hoping that it may to some extent interest by 
its novelty. To the philosophic reader I humbly submit 
my little book as an exercise in scientific history. ^ If 
I am right in my conclusions as to the origin of the 
symbol of capture, my essay must be accepted as 
throwing new light on the primitive state. ^For it 
will be seen that the symbol is not peculiar to any of 
the families of mankind. The frequency of its occur- 
rence is such as strongly to suggest — what I incline to 
believe — that the phase of society in which it originated 
existed, at some time or other, almost everywhere. 
Indeed, so far as my inquiries into early social pheno- 
mena have extended, I have found such similarity, so 

PREFACE. xvii 

many correspondences, so nmcli sameness in the forms 
of life prevailing among the races usually considered 
distinct, that I have come to regard the ethnological 
differences of the several families of mankind as of little 
or no weight compared with what they have in common. 
The most that can be attributed to those differences 
is, that they have affected the rate of development of 
the families, and the character of the development itself, 
in some of its secondary aspects.^ 

Apart from the interest attaching to the form of 
capture as pointing out what most probably was the 
primitive form of human association, it will be found 
to have an important bearing on several social problems 
which have hitherto remained unsolved. I think that 
the most_important portions of my work are Chapters 
VIII. and IX., in which the solution of some of these 
problejiLS is attempted. These chapters, it will be 
seen, are strictly pertinent to the main subject of 
inquiry. ■^ In order to explain the appearance of the 
form of capture among endogamous peoples, it was 
necessary that I should examine the systems of kinship 
which anciently prevailed, and their influence on the 
structure of the primitive groups, so as to obtain a true 
view of the rise of caste and of endogamy. /. 




Legal Symbolism and Primitive Life. 

Method of the inquiry set forth and justified. — Study of races in 
their primitive condition and study of legal symbols the chief 
sources of information as to early history of society. — Failure 
here of usual methods of historical inquiry. — Connection be- 
tween facts from savage life and legal symbolism. — How the 
two may be used in combination for classification of social 
phenomena in order of growth. — Value for general historical 
purposes of legal symbolism. — Illustrated from history of 
Roman law, pp. 1 — 8. 


The Form of Capture in Makbiage Ceremonies. 

Extent to which this symbol has been overlooked. — Two cases in 
which it has been noticed. — Explanation by Festus of its 
observance among the Romans. — MUUer's explanation of its 

h 2 


observance among the Spartans. — Cause shown for rejection of 
Muller's view.^ — Nature of the symbol set forth. — Instances of 
its occurrence. — Inference that may be made as to the extent 
of its former prevalence, pp. 9 — 21. 

Ohapter iil 

The Origin of the Fobm of Captuee. 

This symbol must imply something more than the mere lawlessness 
of savages. — It does imply that wives were at one tiine syste- 
matically obtained by theft or force. — ^That women of foreign 
tribes could be got for wives only by theft or by force cannot, 
by itself, explain occurrence of symbolism. — ^That the symbol 
could not have originated among endogamous tribes. — When 
symbol of capture used by an endogamous tribe, inference that 
tribe had at one time not been endogamous. — If exogamous tribes 
existed, and a state of war usually prevailed between neigh- 
bouring tribes, each tribe could get wives only by theft or 
force. — How this, supposing it fact, would originate the 
symbol of capture, pp. 22 — 30. 


On the Pee valence of the Peaotice op Capturing "Wives, 
de facto. 

Its prevalence among Indians of South America. — And of North 
America also. — In the Deccan and in Afghanistan. — In old 
times, in Muscovy, Lithuania, and Livonia, and other parts of 
Northern Europe. — Among Kalmucks, Kirghis, Nogais, Cir- 
cassians, and other tribes who observe the form of capture. 
Among the Australasians. — Constantly referred to in legends 


of New Zealanders. — Conjoined, it seems, in New Zealand, 
Feejee, and other Pacific islands with cannibalism. — Capture 
among modes of constituting marriage enumerated in Institutes 
of Menu. — This the prototype of the Roman and Spartan forms. 
—Inference as to origin of symbol. — Marriage of captured 
Gentile women allowed by the Mosaic code. — Additional evi- 
dence of capture supplied by observance of the form of capture. 
• — How far evidence of it is also supplied by Greek traditions. 
— By the rape of the Sabines.^ — ^The Irish traditions. — ^The 
Scriptural account of carrying off of the daughters of ShUoh. 
— Summing up of evidence, pp. 31 — 49. 


Of the Rule against Maeeiage between Membees of the same 
Tbibe. — Of the Coincidence of this Rule with the Peactice 
OF Captueinu "Wives de facto, and with the Foem of 
Captuee in Maeeiage Ceeemonjes. 

Exogamy and the form of capture coincident among the Khonds, 
among the Kalmucks, among the Circassians. — Exogamy among 
the Yurak Samoyeds of Siberia, the Kafirs, the Sodhas, and 
other tribes. — Among the Warali. — The Magar tribes. — Dr. 
Latham on prevalence of exogamy. — Provision of Institutes of 
Menu, — Theory of its origin. — Social state of tribes of 
Munniepore, and tribes of Australia, America, and Pacific 
Islands examined with reference to that theory. — Exogamy 
in New Zealand and among the Feejees. — Exogamy and cap- 
ture of women among the Picts. Conclusion, that exogamy 
has been a widely-prevailing principle, and usually coincident 
with capture of wives, or the form of capture, pp. 50 — 71. 


On the State of Hostility, pp. 72', 73. 



ExoGAMTc: Its Obigin. — Compabative Archaism of Exogamy and 


That connection between exogamy and both the systematic capture 
of women for -wives and the form of capture has been estab- 
lished. — Origin of exogamy to be referred to female infanticide. 
It cannot be referred to a feeling against marriage with kins- 
folk. — Grouping of the less advanced races of men according 
to their rules as to marriage, which shows a series, with 
exogamy and endogamy as extremes. — Facts which suggest 
that endogamous tribes have been exogamous. Conversion of 
an endogamous into an exogamous tribe inconceivable. — 
Either, then, exogamy is more archaic than endogamy, or the 
principles are both original and independent of each other. — ■ 
Propositions to be maintained, in which it is involved that 
exogamy preceded endogamy in order of appearance, pp. 


Ancient Systems op Kinship and their Influence on the 
Structure op Primitive Groups. 

Growth of systems of kinship. — The fact of consanguinity a fact of 
observation, and, therefore, it must at one time have been un- 
observed.— The social state while it was unobserved. — The first 
effect of it being perceived would be the conception of stock, 
or the common kindred of the members of a group. — That the 
most ancient system in which the idea of blood-relationship 
was embodied, was a system of kinship through females 
only, — How the idea of blood-relationship must have 
originated a system of kinship through females. — Uncertainty 
of fatherhood would prevent acknowledgment of kinship 


through males. — And nothing else could have that effect. — 
Appropriation of a woman to a particular man, or to men of 
one blood, as wife, the condition of the requisite certainty of 
fatherhood. — How it is probable that such appropriation of 
women to particidar men cannot have existed in the earliest 
times. — Effect of conditions of subsistence on balance of the 
sexes.- — Males must have been in a majority. — Promiscuous or 
polyandrous arrangements therefore a necessity. — How the 
rise of a system of kinship would simplify the formation of 
them. — That systems of polyandry have existed, and still exist. 
- — Polyandry a form of promiscuity, and seemingly an advance 
from a grosser pfomiscnity. — Its connection with kinship 
through females only, and that the latter may be inferred 
from it.— Two types of polyandry. — The prevalence of poly- 
andry. — The Nair type of polyandry, which leaves paternity 
uncertain, described. — The Deega and Beena marriages of 
Ceylon. — Incidents of Nair polyandry remaining amongst the 
Kocch. — Progress seems to have been from the lower, or Nair, 
to the higher, or Tibetan, polyandry. — Tibetan type of poly- 
andry described. — It admitted of kinship through males. — 
Tibetan polyandry in a state of decadence in Ladak.— A test 
of the former prevalence of polyandry obtained in the Levirate. 
— Inference as to former prevalence of polyandry from exist- 
ence of the Levirate. — Evidence of existence of kinship through 
females only, and inference therefrom, where the two are not 
found together, as to former prevalence of polyandry. — Philo's 
report as to marriage law of Sparta considered. — Evidence 
that kinship through females only the first system of kinship 
summed up.— It must, at any rate, have prevailed wherever 
exogamy prevailed.— Sir H. S. Maine's views of ancient kin- 
ship. — That the primitive groups were, or were assumed to be, 
homogeneous.— That the system of kinship through females 
only tended to render the exogamous groups heterogeneous, 
and thus to supersede the system pf capturing wives,— That 
the system of kinship through females only was succeeded by 
a system which acknowledged kinship through males also, and 
which, in most cases, passed into a system which acknowledged 
kinship through males only.— Attempt to sketch the history of 


this revolution. — That the system of kinship through males 
tended to rear up homogeneous groups, and thus to restore the 
original condition of affairs among exogamous races, as regards 
both the practice of capturing wives and the evolution of the 
form of capture. — That under the combined influence of 
exogamy and female kinship, there might be, -within a tribe, 
a balance of men and women regarded as of different descent, 
and, therefore, free to marry each other, consistently with 
exogamy.— That, this stage reached, a tribe grown proud 
through successes in war might become a caste. — That caste 
may appear while a people is still polyandrous. — That, on 
kinship becoming agnatic, the members of a caste might feign 
themselves to be descended from a common ancestor, and so 
become endogamous.^ — Inference from observance of form of 
capture by an endogamous race. Effects on early society of 
the law of blood-feud, pp. 83 — 146. 


The Decay op Exogamy in Advancing Communities. 

Causes of break-down of exogamy, where it perished gradually and 
without endogamy succeeding it, to be inquired into, for 
example's sake, in the case of the Greeks and Eomans. — 
Reasons for holding that Greeks and Romans were exogamous. 
■ — The composition and organisation of their tribes and 
commonwealths. — The old theory of the composition of States. 
— Reasons why it must be rejected. — New theory suggested by 
results of this inquiry. — If this theory be admitted, area in 
which exogamy prevailed may be greatly extended. — Break- 
down of exogamy intimately connected with evolution of clans 
and families, and of clan and family estates, within the tribe. 
■ — Effect of laws of succession in limiting the acknowledgment 
of relationship. — Exogamy died out, because relationship was 
thus narrowed. — Effect of the law of testaments.- — Motive for 
violation of rule of exogamy in the case of female heiresses, 
pp. 147—158. 



Conclusion, pp. 159 — 161. 

Appendix to Primitive Marriage, pp. 165 — 191. 


Purpose of the inquiry to test, in case of the ancient Greeks, scheme 
of development of systems of kinship propounded in Primitive 
Mwriage. — Scheme set forth, and, as explanatory of it, outline 
given of scheme of development of systems of marriage pro- 
pounded in same work. — First, of Greek kinship as it appears 
in the Homeric poems. — Position of the wedded wife. — Blood- 
ties acknowledged through both father and mother. — Homeric 
pedigrees traced through fatfesrs. — Inference from shortness of 
those pedigrees. — Evidence tharsblood-ties through mother held 
more sacred in that period'thab thosAhrough father. — Secondly, 
of the post-Homeric history of kinship in Greece.. — Growtji-mr 
opinion unfavourable to idea of kinship through moth^ and 
close approach made to agnation. — Evidence of this. — Thirdly, 
of the traditions of the Greeks and the customs of their con- 
geners. — (1) Incestuous connections among ancient Persians. — 
Xanthus' account of the Medes. — (2) Xenophon's account of 
the Lacedaemonians. — Polyandry prevailed among the Lacedae- 
monians according to Polybius. — Corroboration of this in legend 
of Lycurgus. — (3) Suggestions of the Levirate in legends of 
the house of Priam. ^ — (4) Evidence of female kinship, and 
therefore of some degree of promiscuity in the sister-marriages 
allowed at Athens, and in a provision of the laws of Solon. — 
(5) Indications in Greek legends of high position of women in 
ancient times, and of kinship through females only. — Facts 


indicative of ancient supremacy of women in families. — The 
system of kinship through females only traced through the 
custom of naming children after the mother. — Tradition that 
ancestors of Greeks emerged from the savage state, and had no 
marriage. — Facts relative to kinship among the Greeks, pre- 
viously adduced, consistent with the tradition. — Inference made 
that polyandry preceded monandry, and that kinship through 
females only preceded kinship through males as well as through 
females, pp. 195—246. 



Mr. Moegan's Conjectueal Solution of the Origin of the 
Classificatokt System of Relationship. 

Mr. Morgan's first impression as to the Iroquois relationships. — 
Origin of his work on the Classificatory System of Relationships. 
— Its contents. — Objects of his inquiry. — His conjectural 
solution and series of stages in social development involved in 
it. — Conjectural solution ezamined in reference to the three 
most primitive forms of the classificatory system. — If these 
explained, origin of classificatory system is explained, and less 
primitive forms easy of explanation. — ^First, as to the origin of 
the Malayan system of relationships. — Main features of that 
system set forth. — Customs or "stages" assumed by Mr 
Morgan to explain it, viz., brother and sister-marriages, the 
communal family, and the Hawaian custom. — What Mr. Morgan 
claims to have shown about it. — That it is a system of blood- 
relationships assumed by him. — Brother and sister-marriages 
the only " stage " actually required for the solution. — Defects 
and oversights of Mr. Morgan's explanation. — Conjectural 
solution examined next, as to origin of the " Turanian " and 
" GanowAnian " systems of relationships. — Distinctive features 


of those systems set forth. — Mr. Morgan's explanations of 
them tested at two leading points. Were bis Reason at the 
first point well founded, the Hawaian custom would have given 
Turanian and Ganowdnian instead of corresponding Malayan 
relationships. — Supposing it failed to do this, exogamy super- 
vening upon it, could not have had effects ascribed to it by 
Mr. Morgan. — ^The additional limitation on marriage that would 
have been imposed by exogamy superinduced on Hawaian cus- 
tom. — Reason insufficient on Mr. Morgan's own ground, and 
inconsistent with Mr. Morgan's assumptions. — And insufficient 
whether we start from the "Communal Family" or from the 
" Hawaian custom." — Mr. Morgan's Reasons at second point. — 
Both rest on pure assumption. — ^What they assume, and a 
" slight variation " between assumptions made in them. — What 
involved in them. — They cannot be accepted. — Two radical 
mistakes which have vitiated Mr. Morgan's attempt at expla- 
nation. — Remarks on assumption that the classificatory system 
is a system of blood-ties.— Maintained, that it is a system of 
mutual salutations merely, and not a system of blood-ties. — 
Observations on the "stages" of the conjectural solution, 
pp. 249—276. 


The Origin of the Classificatory System of Relatiokships. 

Origin of the classificatory system to be looked for in some early 
marriage-law. — Systems of addresses and systems of blood-ties 
must have originated in the same set of circumstances, and must 
have had, for a time, a common history. — Proposed to test the 
hypothesis of rise of systems of kinship contained in Primitive 
Marriage by its fitness to explain the classificatory system. — 
And, first, as to the Malayan form of that system. — Further 
explanations given as to Malayan relationships. — A household 
or family of the Nair type, and the nomenclature required for 
it. — How the type of such a family must have been altered in 


the transition to Tibetan polyandry. — Effect of that transition 
in extending application of nomenclature. — How the terms used 
in it as extended would acquire definite signification as if relative 
to descents. — How they would become applicable to relatives at 
law. — Tibetan polyandry not essential to explanation of Malayan 
relationships. — Explanation summarised. — Next, as to the 
" Turanian " and " GanowAnian " forms. — Extent of difference 
between these and the Malayan form. — The main difference is 
introduction of cousinry, and those who are each other's cousins 
are persons accounted of different blood. — Varieties of blood 
introduced into families by exogamy, and the differences between 
forms of classificatory system are all referable to the extent to 
which among different peoples the pressure of the notion of 
blood was yielded to. — ^Assumed, but for convenience only, that 
" Turanian " and " Ganowdnian " forms developed out of Mala- 
yan. — The five distinctive features in which the " Turanian " 
and "Ganowanian" forms agree accounted for. — Not inevitable 
that exogamy should produce all these effects, and peculiarities 
of nomenclature of some North American tribes thus explained. 
— How the differences between the " GanowAnian " and 
" Turanian " forms may be accounted for. — Cousin marriages, 
and marriages made by cousins which would havB the same 
effect as cousin-marriages as regards blood of cousins' children. 
— Tibetan polyandry essential to explanation of " Turanian " 
and " Ganowtoian " forms. — Esquimo form of the classificatory 
system may be similarly explained, pp. 277 — 301. 


Das Mutterrecht, an inquiry into the gynaikocracy. of the ancient 
world. — It first announced that kinship through females only 
everywhere preceded kinship through males. — Account of 
Eachofen's scheme of human progress.— At first, human beings 
lived in a state of hetairism. — This put an end to, and 
marriage (monogamous) introduced, by women under the 


influence of a religious inspiration. — Marriage establisiied by 
force (Amazonianism), and women, whose combination intro- 
duced it, accordingly became tbe beads of families. — Children 
named after mothers, and rights of succession traced through 
women. — Improvement of religious faith came along with the 
triumph of women, and, for a time, fostered their cause. — 
Their position, however, lost through a religious influence. — 
Dionysos promulgated that fatherdom alone was divine, and 
a mother a nurse only. — Amazonian risings against this gospel 
ineffectual. — Bacchanalian excesses, by restoring hetairism, laid 
fresh basis for gynaikocracy. — It finally disappeared under 
influence of a new religious growth, the " Apollonic," " Solar " 
conception of fatherdom. — With Bachofen religion is a mere 
expression of the circumstances of a people, but of what 
circumstances never explained, and causes of progress therefore 
left undisclosed. — His explanation of kinship being traced 
through women only remarked upon. — Extent of his contri- 
bution to knowledge, pp. 319 — 325. 


" Communal Marriage," the starting-point of a scheme of social 
progress propounded by Sir John Lubbock. — As used by him, 
it means two distinct things. — Sense in which he regards it as 
initial stage in social progress. — His history of the growth of 
marriage. ^ — The evidence offered by him for his initial stage in 
two branches. — Progress from iuitial stage shown by general 
reasoning. — General reasoning and second branch of evidence 
turn on principles contradictory of each other. — ^First branch 
of evidence adduced by him of communism in women, being 
cases in which communism reported to have existed. — ^That 
evidence examined.-— Amount of it small. — Wanting in rele- 
vancy. — Second branch of evidence of communism in women, 
being cases in which communism inferred to have existed. — 
Expiation for marriage. — Conditions on which, from the facts 


alleged to imply that, inference of ancient communism might 
be drawn. — Those conditions not satisiied, and inference of 
communism conferring " communal rights " having existed not 
maintainable. — Of the contradictory principles set up by Sir 
J, Lubbock, which to be preferred and which rejected. — ^That 
to be decided on facts relating to capture of women for wives. 
— As to most ancient nations, our knowledge of this matter 
entirely derived from the form of capture. — That in almost all 
cases represents a group-act, a siege, a battle, or an armed 
invasion. — All cases of capture in its transition to a symbolism 
have that character also. — And so, mostly, have the facts of 
actual capture of wives. — Inference made that the capture of 
women for wives has usually been the act of a group or of 
a detachment from a group. — And, accordingly, that there 
could have been no system of appropriation of women by 
individual captors, such as could have broken up the 
"communal marriage" system had it prevailed, and intro- 
duced monogamous marriage. — The principle on which Sir 
J. Lubbock's account of social progress is based must, there- 
fore, be rejected, while the existence of his initial stage itself 
had not been made probable. — Inference made thereupon, 
pp. 329—347. 


Account of singular arrangement of the family among the ancient 
Irish. — Sir H. S. Maine's theory of this arrangement. — That 
theory refuted. — Text (in two branches) illustrating this family 
arrangement cited from the Book of Aicill. — Inference as to 
nature of family arrangement made from first branch of text. 
— Authority in favour of this inference. — Organization of 
family arrangement according to new reading of text further 
explained. — Features of it which are intelligible on this view. 
— Construction of second branch of text. — The organization 
operated a departure from ordinary succession law. — Object of 


forming it, its functions, and its relation to the family.— The 
organization a division of the Fine or Sept. — Within a sub- 
group of the Fine, and therewith connected by sameness of 
stock. — Limits of recognized consanguinity. — Geilfine tribe 
relationship and Geilfine tribe terms of double meaning, and, 
in wider sense, extended to all within recognized consanguinity. 
— Limits of recognized consanguinity in ancient Wales. — 
Geilfine tribe (in wider sense) and its chief answered to the 
"kindred" and the "chief of kindred" of the Welsh, and the 
Geilfine tribe, or body of kinsmen within recognized con- 
sanguinity, was the sub-group of Fine which organization 
represented. — Use of divisional organization in levying assess- 
ments for crimes of kinsmen. — Its primary purpose, more 
probably, to regulate possession of and succession to property. 
— This, at any rate, its most striking, effect. — It was not 
confined to the chieftain class, but probably originated with 
them, to regulate succession to ancestral lands, and spread, by 
imitation, among tribesmen. — Rights of succession between 
the divisions. — ^Apportionment of divisional property among 
members of division. Working of organization, as to suc- 
cession, illustrated. — How such a system of entail of ancestral 
lands may have arisen. — Resemblances in Welsh laws of 
succession to ancestral lands. — And in rules of succession to 
ancestral land in Western India, pp. 351 — 387. 




Legal Symbolism and Primitive Life. 

The chief sources of information regarding the early 
history of civil society are, first, the study of races in 
their primitive condition ; and, second, the study of the 
symbols employed by advanced nations in the consti- 
tution or exercise of civil rights. From these studies 
pursued together, we obtain, to a large extent, the 
power of classifying social phenomena as more or less 
archaic, and thus of connecting and arranging in their 
order the stages of human advancement. 

None of the usual methods of historical inquiry 
conduct us back to forms of life so nearly primitive 
as many that have come down into our own times, 
The geological record, of course, exhibits races as rude 
as any now living, some perhaps even more so, but 
then it goes no farther than to inform us what food 
they ate, what weapons they used, and what was the 
character of their ornaments. More than this was not 


to be expected from that record, for it was not in its 
nature to preserve any memorials of those aspects of 
human life in which the philosopher is chiefly in- 
terested — of the family or tribal groupings, the domestic 
and political organisation. Again, the facts disclosed 
by phUology as to the civU condition of the Indo- 
European race before its dispersion from its original 
head-quarters, — the earliest, chronologically considered, 
which we possess respecting the social state of mankind, 
— cannot be said to tell us anything of the origin or 
early progress of civilization. Assuming the correctness 
of the generalization by which phUologers have at- 
tempted to reconstruct the social economy of the Aryans, 
we find that people, at an unknown date before the 
dawn of tradition, occupying nearly the same point of 
advancement as that now occupied by the pastoral 
hordes of Kirghiz Tartary, and leading much the same 
sort of life. They had marriage laws regulating the 
rights and obligations of husbands and wives, of parents 
and children ; they recognized the ties of blood through 
both parents ; they had great flocks and herds, in de- 
fence of which they often did battle, and they Hved 
under a patriarchal government with monarchical 
features. It is interesting — a short time ago we should 
have said surprising — to find that such progress had 
been so early made. But in all other respects this so- 
caUed revelation of philology is void of instruction. 
Those Aryan institutions are — to use the language of 
geology — post-pliocene, separated by a long interval 
from the foundations of civil society, and throwing back 


upon them no light. Marriage laws, agnatic relation- 
ship, and kingly government, belong, in the order of 
development, to recent times. 

^ For the features of primitive life, we must look, not 
to tribes of the Kirghiz type, but to those of Central 
Africa, the wilds of America, the hills of India, and the 
islands of the Pacific ; with some of which we find 
marriage laws unknown, the famUy system undeveloped, 
and even the only acknowledged blood-relationship that 
through mothers. These facts of to-day are, in a sense, 
the most ancient history. In the sciences of law and 
society, old means not old in chronology but in 
structure : that is most archaic which lies nearest to the 
beginning of human progress considered as a develop- 
ment, and that is most modern which is farthest re- 
moved from that beginning. ^ 

And since the historical nations were so far advanced 
at the earliest dates to which even philology can lead us 
back, the scientific investigation of the progress of man- 
kind must not deal with them, in the first instance, but 
with the very rude forms of life still existing, and the 
rudest of which we have accounts. The preface of 
general history must be compiled from the materials 
presented by barbarism. HappUy, if we may say so, 
these materials are abundant. ''-' So unequally has the 
species been developed, that almost every conceivable 
phase of progress may be studied, as somewhere ob- 
served and recorded. // And thus the philosopher, fenced 
from mistake, as to the order of development, by the 
interconnection of the stages and their shading into one 

B 2 


•another by gentle gradations, may draw a clear and 
decided outline of the course of human progress in times 
long antecedent to those to which even philology can 
make reference. All honour to philology; but in the 
task of reconstructing the past, to which its professors 
declare themselves to be devoted, they must be con- 
tented to act as assistants rather than as principals. 

We have said that the preface of general history must 
be compiled from materials presented by barbarism. 
Some may account it illogical to prefix a scheme of early 
progress formed on a view of societies that have not yet 
advanced far, if at all, from savagery, to a scheme -of 
further progress deduced from the written histories of 
nations whose origin and early training we are un- 
acquainted with. But, in point of fact, it is not so. It 
is the best proof of the propriety of such a course — as 
well- as of the continuity and uniform character of human 
progress — that we can trace everywhere, disguised under 
a variety of symbolical forms in the higher . layers of 
civilization, the rude modes of life and forms of law 
with which the examination of the lower makes us 
familiar. Indeed, were these remarks not merely general 
and introductory to the investigation of the origin of 
one particular symbol, many instances of this cor- 
respondence between the higher and lower levels might 
be cited, to show that the symbolism of law in the light 
of a knowledge of primitive life, is the best key to un- 
written history. 

Of the value of that symbolism — of that reverence 
for the past to which it owes its origin — there will be 


occasion to say something hereafter. Meantime, we 
observe that, wherever we discover symbolical forms, we 
are justified in inferring that in the past life of the 
people employing them, there were corresponding reali- 
ties ; and if, among the primitive races which we 
examine, we find such realities as might naturally pass 
into such forms on an advance taking place in civility, 
then we may safely conclude (keeping within the con- 
ditions of a sound inference) that what these now are, 
those employing the symbols once were. History is 
thus made to ratify conclusions derived from the obser- 
vation of rude tribes ; while such observation, again, is 
made to furnish the key to many of the enigmas of 

For it is not as regards unwritten history merely that 
the two sources of information specified at the outset 
are of importance. Apart from the tests of truth 
afibrded by the minute knowledge of primitive modes 
of life and their classification as more or less archaic, 
nothing could be more delusive than written history 
itself. In Eoman law, to take a convenient example, 
Confarreatio has the foremost place among the modes of 
constituting marriage. Usus is just mentioned in the 
twelve tables, which contain a provision against the wife 
coming into the Manus of her husband through Usus. 
Coemptio does not appear in the old law of Rome at all, 
nor is there any mention of it earlier than that by 
Gains. But it can easily be shown that Usus and 
Coemptio come first in order of age, and Confarreatio 
later ; that is to say, the two former are more archaic 


than the latter. Yet have ;receiit learned writers, over- 
looking this fact and the ineaning of legal symbolism, 
represented Usus and Coemptio as forms invented and 
introduced by the legislators of Eome, whereby the 
plebians might have their wives in Manu, and enjoy the 
other advantages of Justse Nuptise; Usus as an in- 
vention ; and the fictitious sale in Coemptio as merely a 
device of legislative ingenuity. The true explanation 
of the late appearance of both Usus and the fictitious 
sale in the Eoman law, is this — that the law at first was 
not that of the whole people but of a limited aristocracy, 
who, with a Sabine king and priesthood, adopted the 
Sabine religious ceremony of marriage; that the law 
long totally ignored the life and usages of the mass, and 
that their modes of marrying and giving in marriage 
began to appear, and to make their mark in the law, 
only on the popular element in the city becoming of 
importance. Instead of marriage per coemptionem 
being the invention of legislators, it was of spontaneous 
popular growth, and must have been as old as the 
establishment of peaceful relations between tribes and 
families. All fictions, or nearly all, have had their 
germs in facts ; became fictions or merely symbolical 
forms afterwards. And that the fictitious sale was 
originally an actual sale and purchase, cannot be doubted 
by any one who knows that marriage by the form of 
actual sale has prevailed almost universally among rude 

We see in the case of the Eoman law how incomplete 
must necessarily be the history of the law of a country. 


as written on the face of it. The law is at first that of 
the dominant and presumably the most advanced classes 
— the Literates, warriors, and statesmen ; the rest of the 
community are beyond its pale, a law unto themselves. 
When the levelling processes, by which the lower classes 
succeed in the long run in acquiring rights more or less 
equal, have gone on for some time, then the ruder cus- 
toms followed by them before and since the commence- 
ment of the State appear in a modified form in what is 
now for the first time really becoming the law of the 
people. Civility seems suddenly to assume the garb and 
the air, and to use the gutturals of barbarism ; legal 
processes are gone through with the frantic howls and 
gesticulations of armed Ojibeways ; and while aU this, 
to those who are ignorant of primitive times, seems 
mere idle pantomime, sometimes silly, sometimes odd, 
sometimes puzzling by its intricacy, to those who are 
prepared to receive their suggestions, the forms employed 
are pregnant with meaning and instruction. Fortunately 
aU the nations in the world have not advanced in civility 
pari passu ; and what is pantomime with one people, 
we discern to be grimmest reality with another. Were it 
not for this inequality of development, in what mys- 
teries would the history of the race be enveloped ! What 
Michelet calls the poetry of law would have to be 
received as such simply ; as so many grotesqueries or 
graces introduced into the ways of life to satisfy the 
popular fancy. As it is, however, the so-called poetry 
of law, the sjrmbolic forms that appear in a code or in 
popular customs, teU us as certainly of the early usages 


of a people, as the rings in the transverse section of a 
tree tell of its age. 

The Libripens, with his scales, ofl&ciating at a wiU or 
act of adoption, seems out of place ; but his presence 
illustrates the source whence aU ideas of formal dis- 
positions were derived — the sale of fungibles. So does 
an old form of process preserved by Gaius — the Legis 
Actio Sacramenti of the Eomans — prove that cultivated 
people to have been at one time in pari casu as regards 
the administration of justice with many races which we 
find ignorant of legal proceedings, and dependent for 
the settlement of their disputes on force of arms or the 
good offices of neutral parties interfering as arbiters. 

So far, briefly, of the importance of the symbolism of 
law and of the study of races in their primitive con- 
dition. What follows is an attempt at a practical exem- 
plification in a new direction of the aid derivable from 
these sources in the task of unveiling the past. 



In the whole range of legal symbolism there is no 
sym.bol more remarkable than that of capture in mar- 
riage ceremonies — the origin of which it is om- purpose 
to investigate — nor is there any, the meaning of which 
has been less studied. So far as we know, neither has 
the extent to which it prevails been made the subject of 
inquiry ; nor its significance the subject of thought. In 
two cases, indeed, the occurrence of the symbol could 
not fail to receive some attention. But naturally, it did 
not lie in the way of the historians of either Greece or 
Rome to examine the matter very minutely, or to foUow 
up the suggestions which, upon examination, it might 
have yielded, as to the early condition of the Dorians or 
Latins. Accordingly, the custom has been accepted as 
meaning no more than Festus said it did among the 
Romans, than Miiller says it did among the Spartans ; 
as indicating nothing at Rome but the popular apprecia- 
tion of the good fortune of Romulus in the rape of the 

1 [A fuller collection of examples of the Form of Capture than 
coi^d be made when this chapter was written will be found in the 
Appendix to Primitive Marriage, Note A.] 


Sabines ; ^ as indicating, at Sparta, the feeling that a 
young woman " could not surrender her freedom and 
virgin purity unless compelled by the violence of the 
stronger sex." ^ It is surprising that writers so acute 
should have rested content with such explanations, and 
that their views should have been so generally adopted. 
The theory of Festus we shall have occasion to notice 
hereafter : of that of Miiller we observe that before we 
can entertain it, we must suppose that in the exceedingly 
lax community of the Spartans, or at least within 
certain of the tribes composing that community, there 
had been an early period of austere virtue, the tradition 
of which was still so influential as to compel the 
Spartans to observe in their marriages this custom as 
the shadow of their former delicacy. Now, of the 
existence of such a period of prudery among the ancient 
Dorians, or among the Pelasgi, or the Achseans, there is 
not a tittle of evidence. On the contrary, such evidence 
as we have, points to the Lacedaemonian customs as 
having been an improvement on ancient practice. 
Savages are not remarkable for delicacy of feeling in 
matters of sex, and the wandering hordes, who ' in suc- 
cession overrun the Peloponnesus, were no better than 
savages when they first come under our observation.^ 
Again, no case can be cited of a primitive people, among 

1 Festus, De Verhorum Signijicatione — Rapi. 

2 Miiller's Dorians, Book iv., c. iv., sec. 2 ; and see Eawlinson's 
Notes, Herod., Book vi., 65. 

^ They were certainly as savage as the Khonds, with whom they 
agreed in cultivating a religion requiring human sacrifices. 


whom the seizure of brides is rendered necessary by- 
maidenly coyness. On the contraiy, it might be shown, 
were it worth while to deal seriously with this -view, 
that women among rude tribes are usually depraved, 
and inured to scenes of depravity from their earliest 
infancy. In this state of the facts, it is remarkable 
that any one should have been satisfied with so 
improbable an explanation. 

^ Kejecting, then, the primitive prudery hypothesis, 
which requires for its basis a declension from ancient 
standards of purity — of the existence of which we have 
no evidence — ^we proceed to examine the various phases 
in which the symbol of capture is presented. "We shaU 
find it in places far from classic ground, and pointing, in 
all its varieties, so steadily to the true theory of its origin, 
that the mere exhibition of its phases will lead the reader 
to anticipate much of what we have to say on the subject. 
In order to see what is the precise state of the facts with 
which we have to deal, it is necessary to say something 
of the nature of the symbol, and to adduce at some length 
such accounts of it as we find in our authorities. 

The symbol of capture occurs whenever, after a con- 
tract of marriage, it is necessary for the constitution of the 
relation of husband and wife, that the bridegroom or his 
friends should go through the form of feigning to steal 
the bride, or carry her off from her relations by superior 
force. The marriage is agreed upon by bargain, and the 
theft or abduction follows as a concerted matter of form, to 
make valid the marriage. The test, then, of the presence 
of the symbol in any case is, that the capture is concerted, 


and is preceded by a contract of marriage. If there is no 
preceding contract, the case is one of actual abduction. 

So far of the nature of the symbol. We proceed to 
examine some instances of its occurrence. That the 
form was observed in the marriages of the Dorians, and 
was, equally with betrothal, requisite as a preliminary 
of marriage, rests chiefly on the authority of Herodotus 
and Plutarch.^ The evidence of Herodotus is indirect, 
and is contained in the well-known passage in which he 
explains how Demaratus robbed Lestychides of his bride 
Percalus, to whom he had been h&\xo\h.QA.— forestalling 
him in carrying her off and marrying her.^ The case 
was one of actual abduction ; but the language of 
Herodotus implies that it remained for Lestychides, in 
order to make Percalus his wife, that he should go 
through the form of carrying her off. With this must 
be conjoined the express statement of Plutarch,^ that 
the Spartan bridegroom always carried off the bride 
by feigned violence. He says, indeed, hy violence ; but 
at the same time he shows that the seizure was made by 
friendly concert between the parties. These passages 
must be held sufficiently to prove that the custom 
existed at Sparta. It is equally certain that it was 
observed at Eome,* in the plebeian marriages which were 
not constituted by Confarreatio or Coemptio. The 

^ MUUer's Dorians, ut supra. 
2 Herodotus, Book vi. 65. , 

^ Life of Lycv/rgus. 

* Festus, ut supra — Hapi : Pothier, Pandectse, etc., App., Title 
II., Book xxiii. 


bridegroom and his friends — ^the time agreed upon 
having arrived — ^invaded the house of the bride and 
carried off the lady with feigned force from the lap 
of her mother, or of her nearest female relation if the 
mother were dead or absent. The seizure is vividly 
described by Apuleius ^ in the story of the " Captive 
Damsel," in which he is understood to have had the 
plebeian form of marriage in view. The lady, narrating 
how she had been carried off, says that her mother having 
dressed her becomingly in nuptial apparel, was loading 
her with kisses, and looking forward to a future line 
of descendants, when on a sudden a band of robbers, 
armed like gladiators, rushed in with glittering swords, 
made straight for her chamber in a compact column, 
and, without any struggle or resistance whatever on the 
part of the servants, tore her away half dead with fear 
from the bosom of her trembling mother. The custom 
is said still to prevail to a great extent among the 
Hindus.^ It may well do so, for we find what must, 
as we shall show, be held to be the form of capture, 
prescribed as a marriage ceremony to the Hindus in the 
Sutras.' It prevails among the Khonds in the hill 
tracts of Orissa. The marriage being agreed upon, a 
feast, to which the families of the parties equally con- 
tribute, is prepared at the dwelling of the bride. " To 

1 Apuleius, De Asino Aureo, Book iv. 

2 M'Pherson's Report upon the Khonds of tlie Districts of Ganjam 
and CullacJc, p. 55. Calcutta, 1842. 

3 Indische Studien, p. 325. By Dr. Weber. Berlin, 


the feast," says Major M'Pherson,^ " succeed dancing 
and song. When the night is far spent, the principals 
in the scene are raised by an uncle of each upon his 
shoulders, and borne through the dance. The burdens 
are suddenly exchanged, and the uncle of the youth 
disappears with the bride. The assembly divides into 
two parties ; the friends of the bride endeavour to 
arrest, those of the bridegroom to cover, her flight, and 
men, women, and children mingle in mock conflict, 
which is often carried to great lengths." " On one 
occasion," says Major-General Campbell,'^ " I heard loud 
cries proceeding from a vUlage close at hand. Fearing 
some quarrel, I rode to the spot, and there I saw a man 
bearing away upon his back something enveloped in an 
ample covering of scarlet cloth ; he was surrounded by 
twenty or thirty young fellows, and by them protected 
from the desperate attacks made upon him by a party of 
young women. On seeking an explanation of this novel 
scene, I was told that the man had just been married, 
and his precious burden was his blooming bride, whom 
he was conveying to his own village. Her youthful 
friends— as, it appears, is the custom — ^were seeking to 
regain possession of her, and hurled stones and bamboos 
at the head of the devoted bridegroom, untU he reached 
the confines of his own village.' Then the tables were 

1 M'Pherson's Report, ut supra, 

2 Personal JVarrative of Service, etc., in Khondistan, 1864, 
p. 44. 

^ The hurling of old shoes, etc., after the bridegroom among our- 
selves, may he a relic of a similar custom. It is a sham assault on 
the person carrying off the lady ; and in default of any more 


turned, and the bride was fairly won ; and off her young 
friends scampered, screaming and laughing, but not 
relaxing their speed tiU they reached their own village." 
The custom may be presumed to prevail among the 
Koles, the Ghonds, and the other congeners of the 
Khonds ; but we are without authority on the subject. 

According to De HeU,'' the form of capture is observed 
in the marriages of the noble or princely class among 
the Kalmucks. The price to be paid for the bride to her 
father having been fixed, the bridegroom sets out on 
horseback, accompanied by the chief nobles of the horde 
to which he belongs, to carry her off. " A sham resist- 
ance is always made by the people of her camp, in 
spite of which she fails not to be borne away on a richly 
caparisoned horse, with loud shouts and feux de joie." 
Dr. Clarke describes the ceremony differently, and it is 
possible that it assumes different forms in the different 
nations of the Kalmucks. " The ceremony of mar- 
riage among the Kalmucks," he says,^ " is performed on 
horseback. A girl is first mounted, who rides off in full 
speed. Her lover pursues ; if he overtakes her, she 
becomes his wife, and the marriage is consummated on 
the spot ; after this she returns with him to his tent. 
But it sometimes happens that the woman does not wish 
to marry the person by whom she is pursued ; in this 

plausible explanation — and we know of none such. — it may fairly 
be considered as probable tliat it is the form of capture in its last 
stage of disintegration. 

1 Xavier Hommaire de Hell, Travels in the Steppes of the Caspian 
Sea. Lond. 1847, p. 259. 

^ Travels, etc., vol. i., p. 433. 


case, she will not suffer him to overtake her. We were 
assured that no instance occurs of a Kalmuck girl being 
thus caught, unless she have a partiality to the pursuer. 
If she dislikes him, she rides, to use the language of 
English sportsmen, ' neck or nought,' until she has com- 
pletely effected her escape, or untU her pursuer's horse 
becomes exhausted, leaving her at liberty to return, and 
to be afterwards chased by some more favoured admirer." 
This ride for a wife is never undertaken untU after the 
price for her has been fixed between the friends of the 
parties, the lover having to pay for as well as to catch 
her. The custom is not mentioned in the account of 
the Kalmucks by Pallas, who knew of their marriage 
customs only by hearsay. But it favours the supposition 
that there are varieties of the form in use among this 
people, that Bergnian ^ describes the ceremony somewhat 
differently from both Clarke and De Hell. The necessity 
for the appearance of using force is satisfied, according 
to Bergman, by the act of putting the bride by 
force upon horseback when she is about to be con- 
ducted to the hut prepared for her by the 
bridegroom. And, indeed, we find the form reduced 
to this minimum of pretence in not a few cases. Thus 
in North Friesland,^ a young fellow, called the bride- 
lifter, lifts the bride and her two bridesmaids upon 
the waggon in which the married couple are to travel 
to their home. 

1 Bergman's Streifereien. Riga, 1804, vol. iii., p. 145, et seq. 

2 Weinhold, pp. 250, 251 ; and see the other authorities for like 
cases noted by Dr. Weber, Indische Studien, ut supra. 


Among the Tunguzes and Kamchadales, a matrimo- 
nial engagement is not considered to be definitely 
concluded untU the suitor has overcome his beloved by- 
force, and torn her clothes — the maiden being bound by 
custom to defend her liberty to the utmost.^ Also 
among the Bedouin Arabs it is necessary for the bride- 
groom to force the bride to enter his tent.^ A similar 
custom existed among the French, at least in some pro- 
vinces, in the 17th century.' In aU the cases just 
mentioned the form assumed by the custom was analo- 
gous to the rule prescribed in the Sutras, where it was 
provided that at a certain vital stage of the marriage 
ceremony, a strong man and the bridegroom should 
forcibly draw the bride and make her sit down on a red 

There is good ground for believing that the form of 
capture is observed in the marriage ceremonies of the 
Nogay Tartars. The rule which prohibits a Kalmuck 
bride from entering the yurt of her parents for a year or 
more after her marriage, and which is undoubtedly con- 
nected with the form of capture, prevails among the 
Nogais, as it does also among the Kirghiz. At any rate, 
we find the custom in the Caucasus in the immediate 
neighbourhood of the Nogais. The form which it 

1 Travels in Siberia, Erman, vol. ii. p. 442, 1848 (Cowley's 

* Burckhardt's Notes on tJte Bedouins and Wahabys. Lend. 1830, 
vol. i. p. 108. 

3 Marriage Ceremonies, &c., Gaya, 2nd ed. Lond. 1698, p. 30. 

* Indische Sttidien, ut supra. 



assumes among the Circassians, indeed, closely resembles 
that observed in ancient Eome. The wedding is cele- 
brated with noisy feasting and revelry, " in the midst of 
which the bridegroom has to rush in, and with the help 
of a few daring young men, to carry off the lady by 
force ; and by this process she becomes his lawful wife." ' 
The custom also prevailed till a recent date in Wales. 
Lord Kames ^ says that the following marriage ceremony 
was in his day, or at least had till shortly before, been 
customary among the Welsh : " On the morning of the 
wedding day, the bridegroom, accompanied by his 
friends on horseback, demands the bride. Her friends, 
who are likewise on horseback, give a positive refusal, 
upon which a mock scuffle ensues. The bride, mounted 
behind her nearest kinsman, is carried off and is pursued 
by the bridegroom and his friends, with loud shouts. It 
is not uncommon on such an occasion to see two or 
three hundred sturdy Cambro-Britons riding at fuU 
speed, crossing and jostling to the no small amusement 
of the spectators. When they have fatigued themselves 
and their horses, the bridegroom is suffered to overtake 
his bride. He leads her away in triumph, and the scene 
is concluded with feasting and festivity." Some such 
picture we should have had from De Hell had he ex- 
panded his account of the mock scuffle among the 
Kalmucks of the hordes of the bride and brideOTOom. 


1 Louis Moser, Tlie Caucasus and its People, Lond. 1856, p. 31; 
and see Spencer's Travels in Circassia, Lond. 1837, vol. ii. p. 375 ; 
and Beirs Journal, vol. ii. p. 221, Lond. 1840. 

2 Sketches of tlie History of Man, Book i. sec. 6, p. 449, Edin. 


We have now found the custom in various parts of 
Europe and Asia ; it occurs also in Africa and in 
America. Lord Karnes vouches for the custom among 
the Inland Negroes.^ " When the preliminaries of the 
marriage are adjusted, the bridegroom with a number of 
his companions set out at night and surround the house 
of the bride, as if intending to carry her off by force ; 
she and her female attendants pretending to make all 
possible resistance, cry aloud for help, but no person 
appears." Speke^ mentions an incident which he 
observed in Karague, and which niay have been the 
sequel to a capture. " At night," he says, " I was struck 
by surprise to see a long noisy procession pass by where 
I sat, led by some men who carried on their shoulders 
a woman covered up in a blackened skin. On inquiry, 
however, I heard she was being taken to the hut of her 
espoused, where bundling fashion she would be put to 
bed ; but it is only with virgins they take so much 
trouble." Traces of the custom are indeed frequently 
met with in Africa, but in so distinct and marked a form 
as that mentioned by Lord Kames we have not found 
it. His lordship has not given his authority. He 
mentions the custom, however, merely for its singularity, 
and apparently in ignorance of its connecting itself with 
any widespread practice of mankind, which demanded 
investigation. Among the primitive races throughout 
the whole continent of America traces of the form of 
capture (that is, customs seemingly of no significance, 

1 Sketches, &c., ut supra. 

2 Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile, 1863, p. 198. 

C 2 


except in the light of this form) are of frequent occur- 
rence. Among the people of Tierra del Fuego, however, 
the form itself appears almost in perfection. "As 
soon," says Captain Fitzroy, speakinlg of the Fuegiaus,^ 
" as a youth is able to maintain a wife by his exertions 
in fishing or bird-catching, he obtains the consent of her 
relations, and does some piece of work, such as helping 
to make a canoe, or prepare sealskins, &c., for her 
parents. Having built or stolen a canoe for himself, he 
watches for an opportunity, and carries oflf his bride. If 
she is unwilling, she hides herself in the woods, until 
her admirer is heartily tired of looking for her, and 
gives up the pursuit ; but this seldom happens." 

These are among the best marked instances of the 
form with which we are acquainted. The instances fix 
our attention especially upon a few geographical points. 
But nothing in nature stands by itself. Each example 
of the form leads us to contemplate a great area over 
which the custom once prevailed, just as a fossil fish in 
rock on a hill-side forces us to conceive of the whole 
surrounding country as at one time under water. Were 
we to enumerate and examine all the customs which 
seem to us connected with the form, we should be led 
into discussions foreign to our purpose, and there would 
be few primitive races with which we should not have to 
deal. Suffice it, that the form which of old appeared 
so well defined in the peninsulas of Italy and Greece, 
may be traced thence, on the one hand, northwards 
through France and Britain, south-westwards through 

1 Voyages of the Adventure and Beagle, vol. ii. p. 182 ; 1839. 


Spain, and north-eastwards througli Prussia; on the 
other hand, northwards through ancient Thessaly and 
Macedonia, into the mountainous regions on the Black 
Sea and the Caspian ; again, that the form which is 
perfect among the Kalmucks shades away into faint and 
fainter traces throughout almost all the races of the 
Mongolidse ; that we may assume it of frequent occur- 
rence in Africa, as it unquestionably was among the 
red men of America ; that it occurs among the Hindus, 
and may be assumed to have been common among the 
aboriginal inhabitants of the plains of India, of whom 
we have a well-preserved specimen in the Khonds of 



The question now arises, what is the meaning and 
what the origin of a ceremony so widely spread, that 
abeady on the threshold of our inquiry the reader must 
be prepared to find it connected with some universal 
tendency of mankind ? 

Those who approach the subject with minds un- 
disturbed by the views of Festus and Mliller wiU most 
naturally think, in the first instance, of an early period 
of lawlessness, in which it was with women as with 
other kinds of property, that- he should take who had 
the power, and he should keep who could. And it is a 
trite fact, that women captured in war have universally, 
in barbarous times and countries, been appropriated as 
wives, or as worse. But little consideration is needed 
to see that the symbol implies much more than this ; 
for it is impossible to believe that the mere lawlessness 
of savages should be consecrated into a legal symbol, or 
to assign a reason — could this be believed — why a 
similar symbol' should not appear in transferences of 
other kinds of property. To a certain extent, indeed. 


the first impression must be held to be a correct one. 
We cannot escape the conclusion that there was a stage 
in the history of tribes observing this custom when 
wives were usually obtained by theft or force. And 
unless the practice of getting wives by theft or force 
was so general where it prevailed that we may say it 
was almost invariable, it is incredible that such an 
association should be established in the popular mind 
between marriage and the act of rapine, as would after- 
wards require the pretence of rapine to give validity to 
the ceremony of marriage. ^It must have been the 
system of certain tribes to capture women — necessarily 
the women of other tribes — for wives. But we may be 
sure that such a system could not have sprung out of 
the mere instinctive desire of savages to possess objects 
cherished by a foreign tribe ; it must have had a deeper 
source — to be sought for in their circumstances, their 
ideas of kinship, their tribal arrangements. ^ 

The fact that among savage tribes — whose normal 
relations with each other are those of war — a man could 
get a woman of a foreign tribe for his wife only by 
carrying her off, cannot, hy itself, explain a symbolism 
which is so well established, so invariable, where it 
occurs at all. Where savages had women of their own 
whom they might marry, captive women would naturally 
become slaves or concubines rather than wives ; the men 
would find their wives, or their chief wives, within the 
tribe ; and the capture of women could never become so 
important in connection with marriage as to furnish a 
symbolism for all marriages to a later time. It may be 


doubted whether, in the circumstances supposed, the 
form of capture would, in a great number of cases, be 
bequeathed to more peaceful and friendly generations, 
even in the case of intertribal marriages — in which only 
the form could be expected to appear ; and at any rate 
these, when first made subjects of friendly compact, 
would be too infrequent for their ceremonies to override 
those which were indigenous, and to be transferred into 
the general marriage law. Much more likely is it that 
indigenous marriage forms should be employed in the 
celebration of intertribal marriages when they occurred. 
It is a fortiori, that in the circumstances which we have 
been considering — ^those of tribes among which, as 
among civilised peoples, the law of marriage is matri- 
monium liherum — no system of capturing women for 
wives could have arisen. 

What circumstances then, what social idea, existing 
among rude tribes, could produce a system of capturing 
the women of foreign tribes for wives ? It will be con- 
venient that, before we make the answer we have to 
offer to this question, we should consider the condition, 
in respect of marriage, of a class of tribes with which we 
believe this system did not originate. 

It is clear that, if members of a fandly or tribe are 
forbidden to intermarry with members of other families 
or tribes, and free to marry among themselves, there is 
not room for fraud or force in the constitution of 
marriage. The bridegroom and bride will live together 
in amity among their common relatives. With the 
consent of her relations, a woman will become the wife 


of a suitor peaceably. If a suitor forces her, or carries 
lier off against her will or that of her friends, he must 
separate from these to escape their vengeance. It 
foUpws that, among tribes of this class, which we shall 
call endogamous tribes,^ betrothal followed by cohabita- 
tion at first, and, at a more advanced stage, betrothal 
and a religious or other formal ceremony of appropriation 
of the spouses to one another, are the natural modes of 
marriage. To the practice of such tribes are to be 
referred the two modes of constituting marriage of 
which the Eoman Usus and Confarreatio may be taken 
as the types. These are at any rate the forms appro- 
priate to marriages between members of the same 
family-group or tribe ; and, so far as appears at present, 
they could only have originated among endogamous 
tribes, or — in the case of marriage within the tribe — 
among tribes which allowed their members to marry 
among themselves or into other groups indifferently. 

The form of marriage by gift, or that by sale and 
purchase, could never have originated with purely en- 
dogamous tribes. A tribe, in a primitive age, is just a 

^ As the words endogamy and exogamy are new, an apology 
must be made for employing them. Instead of endogamy we might, 
after some explanations, have used the word caste. But caste con- 
notes several ideas besides that on which we desire to fix attention. 
On the other hand, the rule which declares the union of persons of 
the same blood to be incest has been hitherto unnamed, and it was 
convenient to give it a name. The words endogamy and exogamy 
(for which botanical science afEords parallels) appear to be well 
suited to express the ideas which stood in need of names, and so we 
have ventured to use them, taking care in the text to make their 
meanings distinct. 


group of kindred — more or less numerous, with common 
interests and possessions, where they have any other 
property besides their women ; living together as an 
ungoverned fraternity, or under the headship of a pater- 
familias. Obviously within such a group there can be 
neither barter nor sale — neither the selling nor the 
buying of wives. On a marriage between two of its 
members, there is no foreign interest to be consulted or 

It is different if we conceive a number of such tribes 
aggregated in a political union to which the caste 
principle of its parts is extended ; so that, while for- 
merly the members of each could only marry among 
themselves, the members of aU have acquired the right 
of intermarrying with one another. In forming this 
conception, we pass from marriages within the tribe to 
intertribal marriages. In an intertribal marriage one 
tribe loses a woman, the other acquires one ; or, as 
sometimes happens, one loses a man, the other acquires 
one. In either case there is room and a necessity for 
compensation. Such a marriage must be a subject of 
bargain, a matter of sale and purchase. And we may 
now perceive that the marriages of which coemptio may 
be taken as the civUised type, have their origin in 
intermarriages between distinct family - groups or 

But it is not in a primitive age, not until after a 
very considerable advance has been made in civilisation, 
that tribes are ever found joined in a pohtical union. 
Such union indicates a state of friendliness between the 


tribes. And should intertribal marriages come to be 
permitted among endogamous tribes, they could from 
the first be carried through by friendly negotiation. 
Gn the other hand, the degree of political union pre- 
supposed to explain the intermarriages must be such as 
to exclude the idea of the members of any tribe resorting 
to violence to obtain wives from any other. We con- 
clude that, among this class of tribes, marriage by 
capture could have had no place. Still more certain is it 
that they could never come to form such an association 
between marriage and the act of rapine as would lead 
them to adopt the symbol of capture in marriage cere- 
monies ; on the contrary, we should expect to find that 
they would, out of respect to immemorial usage in the 
case of marriages within the tribe, celebrate even their 
intertribal marriages — though really brought about by 
sale and purchase — by such ceremonies as had been 
customary among them in marriages between members 
of the tribe. And if the symbol of capture be ever 
found in the marriage ceremonies of an endogamous 
tribe, we may be sure that it is a relic of an early time 
at which the tribe was organised on another principle 
than that of endogamy. 

And now let us postulate the existence of tribes, or- 
ganised on what we shall call, for the want of a better 
name, the principle of exogamy — that is, which pro- 
hibited marriage ivithin the tribe — and whose tribesmen 
were thus dependent on other tribes for their wives. It 
is obvious that intertribal marriages could only be 
peaceably arranged between tribes whose relations were 


friendly. But peace and friendship were unknown 
between separate groups or tribes in early times, except 
when they were forced to unite against common enemies. 
The sections of the same family — when it feU into sec- 
tions — became enemies by the mere fact of separation. 
And while this state of enmity lasted, exogamous 
tribes never could get wives except by theft or 

If it can be shown, firstly, that exogamous tribes 
exist, or have existed ; and secondly, that in rude times 
the relations of separate tribes are uniformly, or almost 
uniformly, hostile, we have found a set of circumstances 
in which men could get wives only by capturing them — 
a social condition in which capture would be the 
necessary preliminary to marriage. And if it be shown 
in a reasonable number of well-authenticated cases that 
these conditions — exogamy as tribal law, and hostility 
as the prevailing relation of separate tribes towards each 
other — exist or have existed, accompanied, as might 
have been expected, by a system of capturing wives, we 
shall be justified in concluding — ^failing the appearance 
of any phenomena inconsistent with such an expla- 
nation — that the same conditions have existed in 
every case where the system of capture prevailed, 
or where the form of capture has been observed 
as a ceremony of marriage. Nothing more than 
this is necessary to satisfy the conditions of a sound, 

We are in a position to do this and more. We shall 
be able to point 'to many tribes which habitually capture 


or captured their wives from foreign tribes ; to show that 
exogamy is or was the law of these tribes ; also, that there 
are cases of exogamous tribes whose tribesmen, marrying 
women by compact, always go through the form of 
capturing such women ; that in aU the modern instances 
where the symbol of capture is best marked, marriage 
within the tribe is prohibited as incestuous. We shall 
also find various circumstances common to exogamous 
tribes, and traceable in their case to the principle of 
exogamy, appearing more or less marked in the case of 
historical tribes which have used the form of capture, 
supporting the conclusion that such tribes had once been 

It may easily be conceived how, among exogamous 
tribes, out of respect to immemorial usage, when friendly 
relations came to be established between tribes and 
families, and their members intermarried by purchase 
instead of capture, the form of invasion and capture 
should become an essential ceremony at weddings. It 
was unheard of from the remotest times that a woman 
became a man's wife except through being made his 
captive, forced or stolen away from her friends 
by him or for him. Surely something shall be 
wanting if there is not at least the appearance of 
a capture ! So the Eoman youths rush in with 
drawn swords, and feign to enact a tragedy ; so the 
Kalmuck girl rides, as if for life, from her lord and 
master by pre-arrangement ! 

We now proceed to treat of the matter, in order, 
under the three following heads : — Firstly, The preva- 


lence of capturing wives de facto ; secondly, Whether, 
where that practice prevails, marriage between members 
of the same famHy-group, clan, or tribe, is forbidden, 
and the prevalence of that limitation of the right of 
marriage ; and, thirdly, How far the state of war 
prevails among primitive groups 1 



The tribes amongst wliicli prevails or has prevailed, 
the practice of getting wives by theft or force, both 
numerous and widely distributed. We shall find them 
in America, in Australia, in New Zealand, in many of 
the islands of the Pacific, and in various parts of Asia 
and Europe. 

It is among the tribes of American Indians that the 
practice is to be found in the greatest perfection. In 
particular, we find it fully displayed on the Orinoco, on 
the Amazons, everywhere in fact, from the Caribbean 
Sea to Cape Horn. The abject Fuegians, as we have 
seen,^ have the practice in a modified or symbolised 
form in the marriages of men and women belonging to 
groups at peace with one another. But they have the 
reality as well as the fiction. Between many of their 
tribes there is a chronic state of war. " Strangers" 
reported Jemmy Button to Captain Fitzroy on one 

1 See ante, p. 20. 


occasion/ "had been there, with whom he and his 
people had ' very much jaw ' ; they fought, threw ' great 
many stone', and stole two women (in exchange for 
whom Jemmy's party stole one), but were obliged to 
retreat." The Horse Indians of Patagonia also, tribe 
against tribe, are commonly at war with one another, 
or with the Canoe Indians, the issues of victory, in 
every case, being the capture of women and the 
slaughter of men. But the Oens or Coin-men would 
appear to be the most systematic of these savage marau- 
ders, for every year at the time of "red leaf" they are 
said to make excursions from the mountains in the north 
to plunder Fuegians of their women, dogs, and arms.^ 
Farther north stUl than the Oens men, we come succes- 
sively on the tribes of the Amazons and of the Orinoco, 
aU of which, excepting those reduced into missions, are 
continually at feud with one another, and in turns rich 
in women or impoverished ; feelings of mutual hate and 
the desire for means of subsistence being concurring 
causes of war. Of the tribes on the Amazons the ac- 
counts are not very distinct ; but the habits of the 
Manaos in the Eio Negro district — which, as reported 
by Mr. Bates,' are similar to those of the Coin-men — 
may be assumed not to be exceptional. There is no 
doubt, however, that the primitive habits of most of the 
Indian tribes have been much changed by the slave- 
hunting expeditions, at one time fostered by the Dutch 

1 Voyages of the Adventivre and Beagle, ut supra, vol. ii. p. 224. 

2 Voyages of the Adventure and Beagle, vol. ii. p. 205. 

^ The Naturalist on the Amazon. Second Edition, 1864, p. 199. 


and Portuguese. On slave-hunEing being introduced in 
America, as in Africa, a market was found for captives 
of both sexes, and men as well as women became spoils 
of \dctory:. No argument is needed to sbow that when 
women are systematically captured as in the above- 
cited cases, they are captured with a view to the raising 
of children — in fact with a view to their performing the 
part of wives. The fulness of the idea of a wife, ac- 
cording to our conceptions, is not, we need scarcely say, 
to be looked for amongst such savages. That idea can 
nowhere be fully realised till the circumstances of a 
people enable men and women to enjoy, or at least to 
look forward with confidence to, a permanent 

Of the tribes of the great Caribbean nation we 
have happily a pretty full account from the pen of 
Alexander von Humboldt.^ The Caribbees fall into 
small tribes or family groups, often not numbering more 
than from forty to fifty persons ; Humboldt, indeed, 
takes frequent occasion to say that an Indian tribe is no 
more than a family. Where groups break up into sec- 
tions, as they tend to do, and live apart from one another, 
the sections are found, though of one blood, and 
originally of one language, soon to speak dialects so 
different that they cannot understand one another. 
Become strangers, they are enemies except when forced 

1 Personal Na/rrative of Travels, &o. (1826). The passages 
bearing on the capture of women among the tribes of the Orinoco, 
from which our account is taken, will be found in vol. v. pp. 210, 
293, 422, 425, 548, 565 ; vol. vi. pp. 20, 21, 26 ; vol. vii. p. 449. 



to unite to make common cause against some pow(;rful 
tribe wliicli has proved a scourge to them all ; enemies, 
and being at least at the time when Humboldt wrote, 
cannibals, not only disposed to slay but to eat one 
another. In their wars, we may imagine, that while 
their male captives furnished means of subsistence, the 
women were preserved to be wives and luxuries.^ To 
such an extent, indeed, did all the tribes of the Carib- 
bean nation practise the capture of women — depend on 
aggression for their wives — that the women of any 
tribe were found to belong to different tribes, and to 
tribes of other nations, and that to such an extent, 
nowhere were the men and women of the Caribbean 
race found to speak in one tongue. 

Going northwards — to the wild Indians everywhere, 
as far as we follow them, the same account is applicable 
in varying degrees. It would indeed be misleading to 
omit to notice that in both North and South America 
tribes are to be found occupying much more elevated 
platforms of civility than those to which, for obvious 
reasons, we have given our attention. As among 
friendly groups of the Fuegians we find marriages of 
consent and of purchase (by labour commonly),^ so 
also among friendly Patagonians; so also with the 
nations of the Huron tongue and the Attakapas, among 
whom the position of the women is exceedingly good. 
'^ Indeed, all the processes have been going on through 
which every species of marriage would in time be 

1 Compare Erskine's Pacific, p. 425 (1863). 
^ See ante, p. 20, 


developed. Even the red men of America are far 
from being primitive, i' A really primitive people in 
fact exists nowhere. For many thousands of years now, 
the various races of men have been in the school of 
experience, all making progress therein, though under 
different masters and in different forms. Hereafter we 
shall see how the old law of the red men, and of the 
natives of Australia, which counts blood relationship 
through females only, operates as an agent of civilisation, 
and tends to supersede the barbarous practices of early 
savagery, and especially to obviate the necessity of 
capturing wives. j(/^ 

The capture of women for wives is found to prevail 
among the aborigines of the Deccan,^ and in Affghanistan.^ 
It prevailed, according to Olaus Magnus, in Muscovy, 
Lithuania, and Livonia.^ The form which it assumed 
among the peoples last named, so closely resembled 
what Kames describes as the custom among the Welsh, 
that we must quote the Archbishop's account of it : — 
" Quicunque enim paganorum, sive rusticorum, filius 
suus uxorem ut ducat in animo habet, agnatos, cognatos, 
cseterosque vicinos in unum convocat, illisque talem 
isto in pago puellam nubUem versari, quam rapi, et 
suo filio in conjugem adduci proponit : hi commodum 
ad hoc tempus expectantes, ac tunc armati, equites suo 
more unius ad sedes conveniunt, posteaque ad cam 

1 Colonel "Walter Campbell's Ivdian Journal, 1864, p. 400. 

2 Latham's Descriptive Ethnology, vol. ii. p. 215. 

8 nistoria de Gentibus Septentrionalibus, Book xiv. cap. ix. p. 481, 
RomEe, 1555. 

D 2 


rapiendam proficiscuntur. Puella autem quoad matri-' 
monii contradictionem libera, ex insidiis opera explora- 
torum ubi moretur per eos direpta, plurimum eiulando 
opem consanguineorum amicorumque ad se liberandam 
implorat : quod si consanguinei vicinique clamorem 
istum exaudierunt, ipso momento armati adcurrunt, 
atque pro ea liberanda proelium coramittunt ut qui 
victores ista in pugna extiterunt bis puella cedat." 
Tbe difference between tbe Welsb and tbe Muscovite 
practice lay in tbis, tbat in Wales, in tbe celebration 
of tbe marriage, betrotbal came first and tbe (sbam) 
figbt afterwards ; wbUe among tbe Muscovites an actual 
invasion came first, and if tbe bridegroom's party 
succeeded in carrying off tbe lady, tbere followed tbe 
consent of parents and tbe sponsaHa : — " Nee ante 
completam banc celebritatem mutua carnali copula, 
pacto parentum interveniente, se commiscere solent 
conjungendi ; quia immane cunctis gentibus crimen 
apparere dignoscitur si ante sponsalia sacra stupri iUe- 
cebris virgo temeratur ; immo summopere cavent pueUae 
ne copulam anticipent quia perpetuam cum prole sic 
suscepta infamiam luent." -^ The intervention of tbe 
sponsalia and consent of parents before tbe consum- 
mation of tbe marriage, marks this as a transitional 
form of tbe practice. But it is none tbe less a case 
of actual capture. Anotber advance and tbe sponsalia 
will precede tbe capture, and tbe figbt be a farce. 

According to Seignior Gaya,^ this transitional form 

1 Olaus Magnus, ut supra, p. 482. 

2 Marriage Ceremonies, &c., ut supra, p. 35. 


of the practice prevailed in his time in Poland, parts 
of Prussia, Samogithia, and Lithuania. A lad's father 
having found where a girl lived, who would make a 
suitable wife for his son, he assembled his kindred 
and carried the lady off, after which application was 
made to her father for consent to complete the 

There is ample reason to believe that the practice 
was general among the nations in the north of Europe 
and Asia. Olaus Magnus,' indeed, represents the 
tribes of the north as having been continually at war 
with one another either on account of stolen women, 
or with the object of stealing women, "propter raptas 
virgines aut arripiendas." His brother Johannes^ dilates 
on the same topic, and mentions numerous cases in 
which the plunderers were of the royal houses of 
Denmark or Sweden. As did the kings, so did their 
subjects. Among the Scandinavians, before they became 
Christians, wives were almost invariably fought for and 
wedded at the sword-point. In Sweden, even long 
after the introduction of Christianity, women were often 
carried off when on the way to the church to be 
married. A wedding cortege was a party of armed 
men, and for greater security, marriages were generally 
celebrated at night. A pile of lances is said to be 
still preserved in the ancient church of Husaby in 
Gothland, into which were fitted torches ; these weapons 

1 Ut supra, p. 328. 

2 History of the GotJts, Book xviii. j and see Kames, ut supra, 
vol. i. p. 393. 


were borne by the groomsmen, and served the double 
purpose of giving light and protection.^ Such a pre- 
valence of lawlessness existing after the introduction 
of Christianity and comparative civilisation, helps us 
to conceive what the habits of these people were in a 
more primitive age. 

"We find capture de facto co-existent with capture 
as a form, and not unfrequent, among most of the 
rude tribes observing the form ; its frequency depending 
partly on the degree of friendliness established between 
the tribes, and partly on the degree of fixity given 
by usage to the price to be paid for a bride. Where 
the parties cannot agree about the price, nothing is 
more common among the Kalmucks, Kirghiz, Nogais, 
and Circassians, than to carry the lady off" by actual 
force of arms. The wooer having once got the lady 
into hia yurt, she is his wife by the law, and peace 
is established by her relations coming to terms as to 
the price, after the thing has gone so far that they 
cannot help theniselves. It is important to observe, 
that among these races the capture, though an irregular 
proceeding, makes marriage, even previous to terms 
being made between the capturer and the friends of 
the lady, and whether they are made or not. 

That the practice of getting wives by capture de 
facto, prevails among the natives of Australia, is a 
fact familiar to most readers. It is not, however, now 

1 Booh of Bays, vol. i. p. 720. The groomsmen are said to have 
been called " best men " in the North from the strongest and stoutest 
of the bridegroom's friends being chosen for this duty. 


the sole or regular mode of getting a wife among the 
Australian tribes ; and we do not claim to do more 
than show that there at present exists among them 
a practice of capturing wives so common as almost 
to be a system. And as we shall hereafter show that 
they are exogamous, and also that exogamous tribes 
which begin with a system of capturing wives, may 
progress — consistently with exogamy — to a system of 
betrothals, we shall ask the reader, conceding to us 
for the present that we shall be able to do so, to agree 
with us that so general a practice of capture, subsisting 
as it does among the Australians alongside of a system 
of betrothals, points unmistakably to a previous stage 
when wives were usually captured. 

Among the Australasians, according to one account, 
when a man sees a woman whom he likes, he tells her 
to follow him, and when she refuses, he forces her to 
accompany him by blows, ending by knocking her 
down and carrying her oflf.^ The same account (some- 
what suspiciously) bears that this mode of courtship 
is rather relished by the ladies as a species of rongh 
gallantry. The cases must indeed be rare in which 
a man finds a woman detached from her lord and 
protector, or the other members of her family; nor 
is it in human flesh and blood to take kicks and cuffs 
as compliments, in whatever spirit they may be 
administered. The following is the account given by 
Sir George Grey— a good authority : — " Even supposing 
a woman to give no encouragement to her admirers," 

1 Turnbull, Voyage Round the World, 1805, vol. i. pp. 81, 82. 


he says,^ " many plots are always laid to carry her off, 
and in the encounters which result from these, she is 
almost certain to receive some violent injury, for each 
of the combatants orders her to follow him, and in 
the event of her refusing, throws a spear at her. The 
early life of a young woman at all celebrated for beauty 
is generally one continued series of captivity to different 
masters, of ghastly wounds, of wanderings in strange 
families, of rapid flights, of bad treatment from other 
females, amongst whom she is brought a stranger by 
her captor ; and rarely do you see a form of unusual 
grace and elegance, but it is marked and scarred by 
the furrows of old wounds ; and many a female thus 
wanders several hundred miles from the home of her 
infancy, being carried off successively to distant and 
more distant points." '\ 

As an Australian woman is always a wife, being 
betrothed after birth to some man of a different tribe 
or family-stock from her own, a stolen or captured wife 
is always stolen or taken from a prior husband. And 
as men do not readily part with their wives, and .their 
tribesmen are bound to make common cause with them 
for the reparation of injuries, the capture of wives is 
a signal for war ; and as the tribes have little property 
except their weapons and their women, the women 
are at once the cause of war, and the spoils of victory.^ 
The tribes, as might be expected, are exceedingly 

1 Travels in North - Western Australia, 1841, vol. ii. p. 

2 Turnbull, ut supra, p. 82. 


numerous, and exceedingly small/ being a species of 
family groups, and, chiefly from the causes specified, 
they are continually at war with one another.^ The 
reader may imagine the extent to which, among 
these myriad hordes of savages, the women are being 
knocked about, and the men accustomed to asso- 
ciate the acquisition of a wife with acts of violence 
and rapine.^ 

The native songs make frequent allusion to the 
practice of capturing wives. Here is the burden of 
one, sung by a heavy-hearted woman, upbraiding 
her lord, whose affections some recently acquired 
captive has drawn away from her : — 

' Wherefore came you, Weerang, 
In my beauty's pride, 
Stealing cautiously. 
Like the tawny boreang, 
On an unwilling bride. 
'Twas thus you stole me 
Prom one who loved me tenderly. 
A better man he was than thee, 
"Who having forced me thus to wed. 
Now so oft deserts my bed. 

Yang, yang, yang, yoh. 

^ Sir George Grey says that the largest number of natives his 
party ever saw together, " numbered nearly two hundred, women 
and children included," ut supra, vol. i. p. 252. 

2 Grey's Travels, ut supra, vol. i. p. 256. 

^ The reader will find, p. 318, vol. ii. of Grey's Travels, a 
curious illustrative instance of the way in which a war about 
women may arise. 


" Oh, where is he who won 
My youthful heart ; 
Who oft used to bless 
And call me loved one 1 
You, Weerang, tore apart 
From his fond caress 
Her whom you desert and shun ; 
Out upon the faithless one ! 
Oh, may the Boyl-yas bite and tear. 
Her, whom you take your bed to share, 
Yang, yang, yang, yoh." ^ 

Concerning the New Zealanders, it must suffice 
to say that the theft or capture of women plays a 
leading part in their popular legends, testifying to 
the prevalence of the practice, at least in their early 
history.^ In New Zealand, and in the Feejee and 
other islands of the Pacific, the capture of wives 
appears to have been conjoined with cannibalism — ■ 
the object of intertribal war being at once to procure 
women for wives and men for food, except in some 
districts where there was a special relish for the 
flesh of females.^ 

In the Institutes of Menu we have marriage by 
capture enumerated among "the eight forms of the 
nuptial ceremony used by the four classes."* It is 
the marriage called Eacshasa, and is thus defined : 

^ Grey's Travels, vol. ii p. 313. 

^ Polynesian Mythology, <Ssc. Sir George Grey, 1855, pp. 138, 147, 
207, 235, 301. 

2 Erskine's Islands of the Western Pacific, and Jackson's 

* Chap. iii. p. 33 (Jones and Houghton). 


— " The seizure of a maiden by force froin her 
house while she weeps and calls for assistance, after 
her kinsmen and friends have been slain in battle or 
wounded, and their houses broken open, is the 
marriage called Racshasa." Elsewhere ^ in the code 
it is mentioned as appropriated to the military class. 
" For a military man the before-mentioned marriages 
of Gandharvas and Racshases — whether separate or 
mixed, as when a girl is made captive by her lover, 
after a victory over her kinsmen — are permitted by 
law." The full scope and effect of this provision we 
shall have to consider hereafter. Meanwhile we notice 
that we have here the exact prototype of the Eoman 
and Spartan forms, embalmed in a code of laws a 
thousand years before the commencement of our era ; 
not as a form, but as living substance. This we hold 
to exclude any hypothesis except that which we are 

We may notice, as further illustrating the subject, 
and as being in itself curious, that by the Mosaic 
Code the military class were, in defiance of the general 
law which declared that there was no connubium 
between Jews and Gentiles, allowed to take to wife 
women whom they captured in war, to whatever 
races they belonged. In Deut. xx. 10-14, the reader 
will find forms and regulations provided for the 
constitution of this species of marriage, and if 

1 Chap. iii. p. 26 (Jones and Houghton). 

2 For the prohable origin of the name Eacshases, see 
Appendix B. 


interested to know the meaning of the rules, he will 
find a copious and learned discussion of them in the 
works of Selden/ 

Thus far we have been dealing with facts. If we 
are right in our theory of the symbol of capture, it must 
be held that the Dorians, or at least some of the 
tribes composing the Spartan nation, and the Latins, 
or at least some of the tribes forming the commonalty 
of Eome, long had experience in the capturing of 
wives by force or stratagem. We leave to our 
Hellenists to consider how far the Doric legends may 
have new light thrown upon them by our view of the 
Spartan custom. How far, for instance, may the 
slaughter by Hercules of Eurylus and his sons, and 
the carrying away of lole to be the wife of HyUus — 
of HyUus, who never occurs in mythology except in 
connection with the Dorians — be a mythical tradition 
of a rape of women from another tribe ? How far may 
the genealogies of Doric heroes connected with the 
taking of Ephyra, — the capture of Astyocheia, — the 
feat of Hercules at Thespise — the stories of Pluto and 
Proserpine, and of Boreas and Orithya — be but tradi- 
tions of a quasi Caribbean prowess 1 It must be kept 
in mind, too, that the case cited from Herodotus in 
proof of the custom at Sparta is one of actual violence. 
At least, the lady was not carried oflf in terms of 
arrangement. Further, to judge by what is reported 
of Theseus — even accepting the tradition as fabulous — 

^ De Jure Natwrali et Gentium juxta Disciplinam Ebraorum, 
lib. V. cap. xiii. fol. 617. 


we may conclude that the ancient Greeks generally 
were very lawless in this matter. To that hero's charge 
are laid numerous rapes of women whom he carried off 
to be his wives — his crimes of this description culmin- 
ating in the seizure of Helen. Plutarch, indeed, in 
describing that affair, mentions a compact as having 
been entered into between Theseus and his companion 
in the seizure — T3m.darus — to the effect that he who 
should gain Helen by lot should have her to wife, but 
be obliged to assist in procuring a wife for the other ; 
which shows that these worthies trusted to their prowess 
to procure them wives,^ As to the Eomans — upon our 
theory — the story of the rape of the Sabines must be 
accepted as a mere mythical tradition of the ancient 
method of getting wives. The story, as might be 
expected, is reproduced in the traditions of many tribes, 
in many places, and in many forms. For instance, in 
the Irish Nennius ^ there is a tradition of such a rape of 
wives by the Picts from the Gael. In the very old 
poem, "The Cruithnians who propagated in the land of 

^ There is no evidence that the Doric hordes who overran and 
established themselves in the Peloponnesus, were accompanied by 
their wives or children. It is most unlikely that they were so at- 
tended ; and, except a surmise founded on the degree of influence 
enjoyed at a subsequent period by the women of Sparta, there is 
nothing in favour of the supposition. But that surmise proceeds on 
the ground that wives of a race alien to that of their husbands are 
not so likely to be well treated as they would be if they were of the 
same blood. Against this we must simply pronounce as being 
contrary to evidence. 

2 Pp. 245—251. 


noble Alba,"^ the Irish are represented as giving three 
hundred wives to the Picts, on the condition that the 
succession to the crown among the Picts should always 
be through their females : — 

" There were oatlis imposed on them, 
By the stars, by the earth. 
That from the nobility of the mother 
Should always be the right to the sovereignty." 

The story of the oaths is no doubt a fable to explain the 
descensus per umbilicum of the Picts. But, in " Duan 
Eiranash,"^ a poem on the origin of the Goedhel, reciting 
the same event, the Picts are represented as stealing the 
three hundred wives : — 

" Cruithne, son of Cuig, took their women from them — 
It is directly stated — 
Except Tea, wife of Hermion, 
Son of Miledh." 

And in consequence of the capture, the Gael, being left 
wifeless, had to form alliances with the aboriginal tribes 
of Ireland. 

" There were no charming noble wives 
For their young men ; 
Their women having been stolen, they made alliance 
With the Tuatha Dea." 

We have the same story in the history of the Jews. 
Chapters xx. and xxi. of the Book of Judges contain 

1 Vv. 115—120. The Irish version of Nennius, 1848, p. 141. 
3 Vv. 178—180, ut supra, p. 245. 


highly instructive matter on this point, in a story, 
which, though laid in the time of the Judges, we 
must hold to be of very old date — a Jewish tradition 
belonging to the earliest history of Israel. The women 
of the tribe of Benjamin had been destroyed, and 
certain of the tribes of Israel had sworn not to give their 
daughters as wives to the men of Benjamin, who again 
could not take wives to themselves from the Gentiles, 
as by law they could marry only into one or other of the 
tribes of Israel. The difficulty of procuring wives for 
Benjamin — which Israel made its own difficulty — was 
solved by the wholesale slaughter of the inhabitants 
of Jabez-Gilead, whose population yielded 400 virgins : 
and next by the men of Benjamin enacting a rape of the 
Sabines for themselves, each man seizing and carrying 
.off one of the daughters of Shiloh to be his wife, on an 
occasion when the women met for a festival in certain 
vineyards near Bethel.-' 

We can now say we have found the capture of 
women very extensively practised ; and there can be no 
doubt that in most of the cases cited, the women 
captured were kept to be used as wives. In a number 
of well-marked cases we have found a system of capture 

1 See Smith's Bible Dictionary — Art. Maebiage — where it is 
remarked that the phrase in the Old Testament {e.g. Num. xii. 1, 
1 Chron. ii. 21), " taking a wife," would seem to require to be taken 
in its literal meaning in the run of cases ; " the taking " being the 
chief ceremony in the constitution of marriage. If the writer of 
that article is correct, we must believe that the Jews observed the 
form of capture, for in many cases where the phrase occurs we know 
the marriages were preceded by contracts. 


— in tlie case of the Caribbean tribes of America, a 
system so general, tbat the women of a tribe were 
commonly not only not of the same tribe with the 
men, but did not even speak the same language. 
^We have seen among tribes in a transition state, in 
some cases, capture almost systematically practised, 
alongside of more civilised institutions ; and in other 
cases, the practice of capture in various stages of 
progress towards a symbolism.^ We have seen the 
marriage by capture embodied in the code of India as an 
institution in favour of the only class which could be 
benefited by it — the warrior class ; and no argument is 
needed to show that such a rule must have been a 
generalisation founded upon practice. A similar rule 
subsisted in favour of warriors among the Israelites. 
The former of these cases is, perhaps, chiefly valuable as 
presenting in a distinct shape the antetype of the form 
of capture — a description of marriage by an actual 
capture so vividly recalling incidents of fictitious capture, 
as practised at Eome and elsewhere, as (in our opinion) 
to set at rest the question in what way the fiction 
originated. The latter case shows a provision made for 
marriage with foreign women, if captured, among tribes 
which, in no other case, allowed of marriage with foreign 
women ; a provision indicating a very remarkable 
association between capture and marriage. It is not 
easy to believe that such a regulation, existing among 
endogamous tribes, is referable to the feeling that a 
victorious warrior should have the fuU disposal of spoils 
of war ; it is much more likely that it was a relic of a 


time when the tribes — or rather the race from which 
they sprang — were not endogamous ; and, if so, it carries 
us back to a remote antiquity when marriage and 
prowess in war were closely associated. <-We have seen 
that the mythic legends of various races, of which 
hitherto no rational explanation has been given, can, 
with great appearance of probability be, referred to the 
existence amongst such races in ancient times of a 
systematic capture of wives. ,^ 

- Further research, and the observation of tribes 
hitherto unreported upon — at present we have not 
been able to say anything that would be satisfactory 
of the races of the continent of Africa — wUl, we 
confidently expect, afford much additional evidence 
of the prevalence of this practice. But we have done 
enough to entitle us to aflfirm that there has existed 
amongst various races of mankind a system of capturing 
women for wives. 



We proceed to show the prevalence of the rule 
forbidding marriage within the tribe or group of 
kindred, and the concurrence of this ban with the fact 
or pretence of capturing wives. 

Here, still more than in our former investigation, 
we are made to feel how imperfect and unconnected is 
the record from which our facts have to be drawn ; 
and farther, how difficult it is to bring together such 
facts as have been observed, owing to the wide field 
over which they lie sparsely scattered. In many cases, 
the authorities are sUent just on the points on which we 
are most eager for information ; while on matters of no 
moment they enlarge ad nauseam. But, too often, 
they have nothing to tell. Skirting a coast-Hne the 
traveller sees natives at points here and there, and can 
describe their dress and personal appearance ; of their 


habits he is as ignorant as a child of the free life of the 
beasts he sees in a caravan. Where the opportunities 
of observation are better, the observer often does not 
know what to look for. Of the jus connuhii among the 
Kalmucks not one word is said by Clarke or Pallas or 
Strahlenberg, and but for some remarks of Bergman's 
we should be entirely in the dark on the subject. 

We begin with the Khonds. This people presents 
us with capture as a form. Major-General Campbell 
says that the Khonds marry women from remote places, 
the reason of which he takes to be, that they have to 
buy their wives, and can get them at lower prices at a 
distance. " They pretend, moreover," he adds,^ " to 
regard it as degrading to bestow their daughters in 
marriage on men of their own tribe ; and consider it 
more manly to seek their wives in a distant country." 
Major M'Pherson — a more intelligent witness — gives us 
the distinct statement, that among the Khonds inter- 
marriage between persons of the same tribe, however 
large or scattered, is considered incestuous, and punish- 
able by death ; ^ a view more consistent with other 
known facts than that of General Campbell. " Mar- 
riage," Major M'Pherson tells us, " can take place only 
betwixt members of different tribes, and not even with 
strangers who have been long adopted into or domesti- 
cated with a tribe, and a state of war or peace appears 
to make little difference as to the practice of inter- 

1 Ut supra, p. 141. 

^ An Account of the Religion of the Khonds in Orissa, p. 57 ; and 
see M'Pherson's Report on the Khonds, already referred to. 

E 2 


marriage between tribes. The people of Bara Mootah 
and of Burra Des, in Goomsur, have been at war time 
out of mind, and annually engage in fierce conflicts, 
but they intermarry every day. The women of each 
tribe, after a fight, visit each other to condole on the 
loss of their nearest common relations." No doubt 
these friendly intermarriages must in time alter the 
relations of the tribes to one another ; no doubt also 
the time was when the marriages were not efi"ected in 
friendly fashion. 

Let us now examine the cases of the Kalmucks and 
Circassians. To understand that of the former, we 
must attend a little to their political system. The 
Kalmucks are divided into four great nations or tribes 
under hereditary chiefs or khans ; — the Khoskots, the 
Dzungars, the Derbets, and the Torgots. Each of these, 
according to Pallas,^ is under the command of many 
little and nearly independent princes, called Noions. 
The horde commanded by a Noion is called an Oulouss, 
and is subdivided into several Aimaks, each of which 
again is commanded by a noble called Saissang. The 
Aimaks again are subdivided into many companies or 
khatoun, consisting of from ten to twelve tents, for 
convenience in pasturing'; and each khatoun has its 
chief; but whether of the noble class we are not in- 
formed. It win thus be seen that there is among the 
Kalmucks a very large governing or princely class. 
Now, it appears that they have two systems of marriage 

^ Voyages dans plusieurs Provinces de F Empire de Russie, &c., 
Paris (no date), vol. ii. p. 191. Nouvelle Edition. 


law; one for the common people, and one for the 
nobles, or princely class. The common people, we are 
told by Bergman,^ enter into no unions in which the 
parties are not distant from one another by three or 
four degrees : but how the degrees are counted we are 
not informed. We are told that they have great 
abhorrence for the marriages of near relatives, and 
have a proverb — " The great folk and dogs know no 
relationship," — which Bergman says is due to members 
of the princely class sometimes marrying sisters-in-law. 
We find, however, that these sisters-in-law are uniformly 
women of an entirely different stock from their 
husbands — different, or what is taken for different. 
For no man of the princely class (and it is in the mar- 
riages of the Kalmucks of this class, according to 
De Hell, that the form of capture is chiefly observed 2), 
in any of the tribes, can marry a woman of his own 
tribe or nation. Not only must his wife be a noble, 
but she must be a noble of a different stock. For 
princely marriages, says Bergman, " the bride is chosen 
from another people's stock — among the Derbets from 
the Torgot stock ; and among the Torgots from the 
Derbet stock ; and so on." Here, then, we have the 
principle of exogamy in full force in regard to the 
marriages of the governing classes — a large body in 
each nation, as we have seen, and, which is most to our 
present purpose, the body in whose marriages the form 
of capture is said to be observed. Whether or not the 

1 Bergman's Streifereien, Eiga, 1804, vol. iii. p. 145, et aeq. 

2 See ante, p. 15. 


commonalty, with whom the nobles have no inter- 
marriage — the people of black birth, as they are called 
— were originaUy of an alien, inferior, and conquered 
race ; and whether or not the governing classes were 
originally independent exogamous tribes, we have the 
prohibition against marriage within the stock here con- 
current with the form of capture in the weddings of 
the nobility. How far the commonalty observe the 
form we have no information, but it is not unlikely 
that they mimic, after a fashion, the marriage cere- 
monies of their superiors. 

The case of the Circassians is simple, and quickly 
told : — " The Circassian word for their societies or 
fraternities," says Bell,^ " is ' tleAsh,' which signifies also 
' seeds.' The tradition with regard to them is, that the 
members of each all sprang from the same stock or 
ancestry ; and thus they may be considered as so many 
septs or clans, with this peculiarity, that, like seeds, all 
are considered equal. These cousins-german or mem- 
bers of the same fraternity, are not only themselves 
interdicted from intermarrying, but their serfs, too, 
must wed with the serfs of another fraternity ; and 
where, as is generally the case, many fraternities enter 
into one general bond, this law in regard to marriage 
must be observed by aU. The confidential dependent, 
or steward, of our host here is a Tokao who fled to his 
protection from Notwhatsh, because, having fallen in 

1 James Stanislaus Bell, Jowrnal of a Residence in Circassia, 
1840, vol. i. p. 347. 


love "with and married a woman of his own fraternity, 
lie had become liable to punishment for this infraction 
of Circassian law. Yet his fraternity contained perhaps 
several thousand members. Formerly, such a marriage 
was looked upon as incest, and punished by drowning ; 
now a fine of two hundred oxen, and the restitution of 
the wife to her parents, only are exacted." Elsewhere,'^ 
BeU observes that these fraternities sometimes embrace 
thousands of persons, between whom marriage is by this 
ancient law totally prohibited. Here, too, as in Khond- 
istan, and among the Kalmucks, we find the form of 
capture as well as the principle of exogamy. 

Our next case is that of the Yurak Samoyeds 
(Siberia), among whom no man can take a wife from 
the tribe to which he belongs.^ These Samoyeds hold 
kinsmanship to be coextensive with the tribe. All the 
members of the tribe, however large or smaU, consider 
themselves relations, even where the common ancestor 
is unknown and the evidence of consanguinity is 
whoUy wanting. They fall into three divisions ; the 
members of any of which may take wives from either 
of the other two, but not from their own ; and as these 
divisions occupy sites far removed from one another, 
the Samoyeds have to go great distances for their 

We find the same state of things among the Kafirs, 
the Sodhas of northern India, the Beduanda Kallung 

1 Ut supra, vol. ii. p. 110; 

2 Latham, Descriptive Ethnology, vol. ii. p. 455. 


(Singapore) and many others, including the Kirghiz 
and the Nogais.^ 

The Warali (India) tribes fall into divisions, and no 
man may marry a woman of his own division ; he must 
go for a wife to one of the others. The Magar tribes 
fall into thums, aU the members of each of which are 
supposed to be descended from a common ancestor ; the 
Magar husband and wife must belong to diflferent 
thums ; within one and the same thum there is no 
marriage. Latham, in noticing the Magars, says — 
" This is the first time ^ I have found occasion to 
mention this practice. It will not be the last ; on the 
contrary, the principle it suggests is so common as to be 
almost universal. We find it in Australia, in North 
and South America, in Africa, in Europe ; we shall 
suspect and infer it in many places where the actual 
evidence of its existence is incomplete." This is a 
sweeping statement ; but before we conclude we hope to 
show that it may fairly be accepted as correct. 

In the Institutes of Menu it is laid down that a 
twice-born man might elect for nuptials " a woman not 
descended from his paternal or maternal ancestors 
within the sixth degree, and who is not known hy her 

1 It must not be thought that the form of capture occurs where- 
ever exogamy prevails — that exogamy and the practice of capturing 
wives, which at a certain stage must be the resource of exogamous 
tribes, will in every case leave the form of capture behind them. 
We shall see the explanation of this hereafter. We have no 
information whether or not the Samoyeds practise the form of 

2 Vol. i. p. 80, Descriptive Ethnology. 


family name to be of the same primitive stock with his 
father." ^ This passage might be taken as a text for the 
discussion of the whole question of prohibited marriages, 
and we must dwell upon it somewhat, as it has an 
important bearing on the present investigation. The 
object of the rule is to prevent marriages between 
members of the same primitive stock ; and it points out 
the family name as the test whether persons are of the 
same stock or not. It is as if a Fraser might not marry 
a Fraser, nor a M'Intosh a M'Intosh. By comparing 
the former state of the Highlands of Scotland with 
their present condition, especially with the condition of 
the town populations, we may clear our ideas regarding 
the origin, meaning, and effect of this institution. Of 
old each clan inhabited its particular strath or glen, 
and had its own well-defined hUl-ranges. In the Aird 
district there were none but Frasers ; about Moy were 
none but M'Intoshes. The members of the clans are 
now interfused even in the country districts, and in 
towns like Inverness or Dingwall may be found mem- 
bers of all the clans. Now, suppose that originally a 

^ Institutes of Menu, cap. iii. sec. 5. The words " or mother " 
occur in the gloss of Calluca. The rule fixing the stock by the 
father is, as we hope to show, far from being archaic. The twice- 
bom classes are the sacerdotal, military, and comm.ercial (Menu, 
X. 4). Nearly all the Indian castes are now divided into nations 
that do not intermarry ; the nations into sects, some of which do 
not intermarry. All the nations are divided into certain families, 
called gotrams ; a man cannot marry a woman of his own gotram. 
Buchanan's Jov/rney from Mad/ras, 1807, vol. i. pp. 273, 300, 354, 
396, 419, 421, 423 ; Muir's Sanskrit Texts, Part II., 1859, pp. 378, 
387 ; Vivada Chintamani, Calcutta, 1863, Preface, p. 45. 


man was not allowed to marry a woman of his own 
clan, and that, subsequent to the interfusion of the 
clans, that ancient prejudice remained; the rule for 
enforcing it — the question of degrees of affinity apart 
— would just be the rule of Menu. So, in considering 
the origin of that rule, are we not remanded from the 
social state in which it was fixed in a code, to an earher 
state, in which the population consisted of distinct clans 
or tribes organised on the principle of exogamy, and 
living apart from one another, as all tribes do in early 
times, until they are brought, by conquest or otherwise, 
under a common government ? We have already had 
examples of tribes with this rule, so that, in this con- 
ception of the early state of the Indian population, we 
are making no improbable supposition. On the con- 
trary, it is not only probable in itself, but it is the only 
supposition that will explain the fact ; and if we accept 
it as indicating the origin of the rule of Menu, it gives 
us such an idea of the prevalence of this law of incest . 
as we could never reach by the contemplation of the 
individual tribes among which it is the law. It will 
be recollected that the form of capture is found among 
the Hindus.^ 

"We believe it may stiU be possible, in the case of 
some communities in which marriage between persons 
of the same family name is prohibited, to analyse the 
population into its constituent (stock) tribes, and to 
prove that the tribes had this law of incest. In one 
case, in particular, investigation seems to be courted. 

1 Ante, p. 13. 


The Munnieporees, and the following tribes inhabiting 
the hills round Munniepore — the Koupooees, the Mows, 
the Murams, and the Murring — are each and all divided 
into four families — Koomul, Looang, Angom, and Ning- 
thajk. A member of any of these families may marry 
a member of any other, but the intermarriage of mem- 
bers of the same family is strictly prohibited. In 
explanation, so far, of these family divisions,^ we have 
the fact, well authenticated in the history of Munnie- 
pore, that the Koomul and Looang formerly existed as 
distinct and powerful tribes, and that the Koomul, in 
particular, at one time preponderated in the valley. 
Presuming that these tribes held intermarriages of their 
members to be incestuous, the origin of two of the 
family divisions, and of the marriage law, is plain 
enough, at least so far as the hill tribes are concerned ; 
and it is in the hills alone that the law is strictly en- 
forced. Most of the members of the tribes would 
remain in the valley and mix with the Meithei, by 
whose prowess they were vanquished; but we can 
conceive that bands of the Koomul and Looang might 
escape to the hiUs, and mix with each other and with 
the tribes of the Angom and Ningthajk, whose existence 
in former times we must postulate, in explanation of the 
family divisions of the same names. Is it beyond hope 
that the further examination of local traditions, or 
exploration of the wUds to the south and north-east 
of Munniepore, may yet furnish us with information 

1 Account of the Valley of Munniepore and of the Hill Tribes. 
M'CuUoch, 1859, pp, 49—69. 


regarding tlie Angom and Ningthajk, or with data from 
which their existence in former times may be legitimately 
inferred, apart from the present speculation 1 

The conclusion at which we have arrived as to the 
origiu of the rule of Menu, will also explain the case of 
the native populations of Australia, North and South 
America, and the islands in the Pacific. In these 
quarters we obtain light regarding the causes which 
lead to the break-up of the primitive exogamous groups, 
and to the intermixture in local tribes of people re- 
cognised as being of different bloods. Let us first 
attend to the Australians, whom we find divided into 
small tribes named after the districts which they ia- 
habit ; for though they are nomads, their wanderings, 
like those of the nomadic agriculturists of the Indian 
hills, are circumscribed within well-defined bounds. 
It appears that the tribe inhabiting a particular district 
regards itself as the owner thereof, and the . intrusion of 
any other tribe upon that district as an invasion to be 
resented and punished ; and that within the district 
individuals have portions of land appropriated to them.-*- 
Thus the tribal system is in force, with an apparent 
perfect separation and independence of the tribes. But, 
on close examination, the tribes are found to be fused 
and welded together by blood-ties in the most extra- 
ordinary manner. According to credible accounts,^ 
the natives of different tribes extending over a great 

1 Letter, Dr. Laing to Dr. Hodgkin, 1840. Reports of the 
Aboriginal Protection Society. 

2 Grey's Journals, Sc, vol. ii. chap. xi. 


portion of the continent, are divided into a few families, 
and all the members of a family, in whatever local 
tribes they may be, bear the same name as a second or 
family name. These family names and divisions are 
perpetuated and spread throughout the country by the 
operation of two laws : first, that the children of either 
sex always take the name of the mother ; and second, 
that a man cannot marry a woman of his own family 

The members of these families, though scattered 
over the country, are yet to some intents as much 
united as if they formed separate and independent 
tribes ; in particular, the members of each family are 
bound to unite for the purposes of defence and ven- 
geance, the consequence being that every quarrel which 
arises between the tribes is a signal for so many young 
men to leave the tribes in which they were born, and 
occupy new hunting-grounds, or ally themselves with 
tribes in which the families of their mothers may happen to 
be strong, or which contain their own and their mothers' 
nearest relatives. This secession, if we may so call it, is 
not always possible, but it is of frequent occurrence 
notwithstanding ; where it is impossible, the presence of 
so many of the enemy within the camp aflFords ready 
means of satisfying the call for vengeance ; it being 
immaterial, according to the native code, by whose blood 
the blood-feud is satisfied, provided it be blood of the 
offender's kindred. Thus, as the Australians are poly- 
gamists, and a man often has wives belonging to different 
families, it is not in quarrels uncommon to find children 


of the same father arranged against one another ; or, 
indeed, against their father himself, for by their peculiar 
law the father can never be a relative of his children.^ 

^ Mr. Maine has been unable to conceive how human beings 
could be grouped on any principle more primitive than that of the 
patriarchal system, or be bound together by any ruder blood-ties 
than those of agnation derived from the patria potestas. "We think 
his mistake has arisen from a too exclusive attention, in his re- 
searches, to those systems of ancient law which, like the Hindoo, 
Homan, and Jewish, belonged to races which were far advanced at 
the earliest dates to which their history goes back. Had he 
examined the primitive races now extant, he certainly would not 
have written the following passage : •*■ "It is obvious that the or- 
ganisation of primitive societies would have been confounded if men 
had called themselves relatives of their mothers' relatives. The 
inference would have been that a person might be subject to two 
distinct patriae potestates ; but distinct patrics potestates implied dis- 
tinct jurisdictions, so that anybody amenable to two of them at the 
same time would have lived under two dispensations. As long as 
the family was an imperium in imperio, a community within the 
commonwealth, governed by its own institutions, of which the parent 
was the source, the limitation of relationship to the agnates was a 
necessary security against a conflict of laws in the domestic forum." 
Here we see the ingenious thinker trammelled by notions derived 
from Eoman jurisprudence. Among the Australian Blacks — ^to 
confine ourselves to a single instance — we have seen that men are 
relatives of their mothers' relatives, and of none other ; and that 
their societies are aliunde held together, notwithstanding the 
conflict of laws in the domestic forum engendered by polygyny, 
exogamy, and female kinship. Kinship depends, in fact, not at all 
on convenience. The flrst kinship is the first possible — ^that through 
mothers, about whose parental relation to children there can be no 
mistake. And the system of kinship through mothers only, operates 
to throw difficulties in the way of the rise of the patria potestas, and 
of the system of agnation. But of this hereafter. 

' Ancient Law, 1861, p. 149. 


Among the Kamilaroi, a numerous tribe residing to the 
north-west of Sidney, the rules in force are very com- 
plex and peculiar. These tribesmen faU into divisions 
resembling castes, and at the same time observe the 
rule against marriages between members of the 
same family.^ 

Our information is so imperfect that we do not know 
whether there exist anywhere in Australia tribes whose 
distinctive names are those of the families into which 
the population is divided. But we should not expect to 
find such tribes. The constant tendency of groups to fall 
to pieces, and of the parts to separation and independence 
of one another, and the practice of naming groups from 
their lands, would tend to obliterate the traces of the 
original stock-groups, except so far as they have been 
preserved in the names of families to keep the blood 
pure by avoidance of marriage between members of the 
same stock. But we cannot doubt but that such stock- 
groups at one time existed, organised on the principle 
of exogamy, and were the germs of the native popula- 
tion. Whencesoever they were derived, it was inevitable 
that the law which recognised blood, relationship as 
existing only through females, conspiring with the 
primitive instinct ^ of the race against marriage between 
members of the same stock, should tend in process 

1 Mr. Ridley's account, quoted p. 491, vol. ii., Pritchard's 
Natural History of Man, Norris's edition. 

[The marriage-law of the Kamilaroi will be f uUy considered in a 
second series of Studies in Ancient History.] 

2 [This phrase, it will be found, was only a slip of the pen.] 


of time to transfuse the blood of each stock through 
all the tribal divisions. The men of the group A 
marrying women of the group B ; and the men of 
the group B marrying women of the group A; and 
all the children of the women of B being counted of 
the stock of B ; and all the children of the women 
of A being counted of the stock of A ; we at once 
have so many B's within A, and so many A's within 
B. And so on, until in time A's from the northmost 
point appear in the homes of Z at the southmost; 
and Z's in the homes of A, Each local tribe would 
thus contain within itself members between whom there 
was connubium ; the original tribal divisions would be 
lost sight of, and nothing would remain of the stock- 
groups but the family names to which they gave birth. 
Should the process of transfusion go far enough, the 
state of matters which would lead to the practice of 
capturing wives would be modified, but not extinct. 
The system of polygamy of itself, and any want of 
balance between the sexes of different families within a 
tribe, would long tend to maintain this practice ; which, 
moreover, like every other practice connected with 
marriage or religion, must be credited with a special 
tenacity of existence. As we have seen, there prevails 
among the Australians a system of betrothals — always 
between persons of different stocks — along with an 
extensive practice of capturing wives. This is just 
what might be expected if our theory of the origin of 
capture be a sound one. Since the tribes of Australians, 
while exogamous in principle, contain persons who 


regard eacli other as of different descent and free to 
intermarry, marriage can be, and is, made tlie subject of 
bargain. Again, habits formed in previous times of 
necessity — and no doubt occasional necessity still exist- 
ing — keep up the practice of capture. 

We now take the case of the American Indians — 
North and South. They have political and district 
divisions ; ^ but besides these the nations among them 
have had from time immemorial divisions into families 
or clans. " At present, or till very lately " — we quote 
from the ArchcBologia Americana — " every nation was 
divided into a number of clans, varying in the several 
nations from three to eight or ten, the members of 
which respectively were dispersed indiscriminately 
throughout the whole nation. It has been fully ascer- 
tained that the inviolable regulations by which these 
clans were perpetuated amongst the southern nations 
were, first, that no man could marry in his own clan ; 
secondly, that every child should belong to his or her 
mother's clan. Among the Choctaws there are two 
great divisions, each of which is subdivided into four 
clans, and no man can marry in any of the four clans 
belonging to his division. The restriction among the 
Cherookees, the Creeks, and the Natches does not ex- 
tend beyond the clan to which the man belongs. There 
are sufficient proofs that the same division into clans, 
commonly called tribes, exists among almost all the 
other primitive nations. But it is not so clear that they 
are subject to the same regulations which prevail 
1 Archmologia Americana, vol. ii. p. 109. 



amongst tlie southern Indians." At the root of these 
divisions and prohibitions we find here, as in Australia, 
the feeling that marriage between persons of the same 
blood is incestuous. " They profess to consider it highly 
criminal for a man to marry a woman whose totem 
(family name) is the same as his own, and they relate 
instances when young men, for a violation of this rule, 
have been put to death by their own relatives." ^ The 

^ From a circular letter by Mr. L. H. Morgan, of Rochester, 
New York, issued by the United States Government to its diplo- 
matic agents and consuls in foreign countries, and which contains 
much interesting information regarding the laws of primitive 
relationship, we quote the following passage as the most recent 
and authoritative statement regarding the tribal divisions of the 
Eed Men : — 

" Nearly all, if not all, of the Indian nations upon this continent 
were anciently subdivided into Tribes or Families. These tribes, 
with a few exceptions, were named after animals. Many of them 
are now thus subdivided. It is so with the Iroquois, Delawares, 
lowas, Creeks, Mohaves, Wyandottes, Winnebagoes, Otoes, Kaws, 
Shawnees, Choctaws, Otawas, Ojibewas, Potowottomies, &c. 

" The following tribes are known to exist, or to have existed, 
in the several Indian nations — the number ranging from three to 
eighteen in each : The Wolf, Bear, Beaver, Turtle, Deer, Snipe, 
Heron, Hawk, Crane, Duck, Loon, Turkey, Musk-rat, Sable, Pike, 
Cat-fish, Sturgeon, Carp, Buffalo, Elk, Rein-deer, Eagle, Hare, 
Rabbit, and Snake ; also the Reedgrass, Sand, Water, Rock, and 

" Among the Iroquois — and the rule is the same to the present 
day in most of the nations enumerated — no man is allowed to marry 
a woman of his own tribe, all the members of which are consanguinii. 
This was unquestionably the ancient law. It follows that husband 
and wife were always of different tribes. The children are of the 
tribe of the mother, in a majority of the nations ; but the rule, if 
anciently universal, is not so at the present day. Where descent 


Indian nations, they say, were divided into tribes, just 
lest any one might, through temptation or accident, 
marry a near relation, which "at present is scarcely 
possible, for whoever intends to marry must take a 
person of a diflferent tribe ; " ^ and the same feeling has 
been remarked by DobrizhoflFer in South America.^ 

What we have said of the Australians may be 
assumed to have been true, at one time at least, of the 
New Zealanders. In " The Curse of Manaia " ' and several 
other of the New Zealand legends we have evidence 

in the female line prevailed, it was followed by several important 
results, of whicti the most remarkable was the perpetual disin- 
heritance of the male line. Since all titles as well as property 
descended in the female line, and were hereditary, in strictness, 
in the tribe itself, a son could never succeed to his father's 
title of Sachem, nor inherit even his medal or his tomahawk. If 
the Sachem, for example, was of the Wolf tribe, the title must 
remain in that tribe, and his son, who was necessarily of the tribe 
of his mother, would be out of the line of succession ; but the 
brothers of the deceased Sachem would be of the Wolf tribe, being 
of the same mother, and so would the sons of his sisters : hence we 
find that the succession fell either upon a brother of the deceased 
ruler or upon a nephew. Between a brother of the deceased, and 
the son of a sister there was no law establishing a preference : 
neither as between several brothers on one side, or several sisters 
on the other, was there any law of primogeniture. They were all 
equally eligible, and the law of election came in to decide between 
them." — Cambrian Journal, vol. iii., second series, p. 149. 

1 Tanner's Narrative, p. 313, quoted in Arch. Amer., and by 
Grey, ut supra. 

2 Account of the Ahipones, vol. i. p. 69. 

8 Polynesian Mythology, ut supra, p. 162. In "The Curse of 
Manaia " the reader will find an instance of children fleeing from 
the tribe of birth to that of the mother's kindred. 

r 2 


that the wife never belonged to the tribe of her husband, 
and that the children belonged to the family of their 
mother. So among the Feejees, who appear to count 
blood relationship through the mother only. In the 
system of vasu-ing, which determines the claims of 
children upon the tribe of their mother, we have evi- 
dence that the mother always belongs to a diflferent 
tribe from the father, and that the children are held to 
be of the family or tribe of their mother.'- At any rate, 
vasu-ing is a relic of a stage in the development of the 
Feejees wherein that was the rule. 

Curiously enough, there is reason for believing that 
exogamy prevailed among the Picts ; in other words, 
according to the most approved doctrine, among the 
Gael or Highlanders ; which fact bears at once on the 
rapes of the Cruithnians, the old Welsh and French 
customs, and the plebeian marriage-ceremonies of Kome, 
for the Celtic element was strong in Eome. That the 
Celts were anciently lax in their morals, and recognised 
relationship through mothers only, are facts well 
vouched ; ^ and .of such facts it is the usual concomi- 
tant, that the children should be named after the 
mother. The facts brought out by the distinguished 
antiquary, Mr. Skene, from a study of the list of Pictish 
kings down to 731, when Bede says that the law of 
succession through females was still in force, may to 
some extent be explained by the sons taking the names 

1 Erskine's Pacific, ut supra, pp. 153 — 215. 
^ Csesar, De Bello Gallico, lib. v. sec. 14. Xiphiline, Monum. 
Ilistor., Ixi. Solinus, idem. Irish Nennius, liv. 


of their mothers ; but they point to something beyond 
this. By favour of Mr. Skene, we are at liberty to give 
here the results at which he has arrived, and which have 
not hitherto been published. 

1st, That brothers always succeeded each other. 

2nc?, That in no case does a son succeed a father ; 
after the brothers have reigned a new family comes in. 

3rcZ, That the names of the fathers and of the sons 
are quite different. In no case does the name borne by 
any of the sons appear among the names of the fathers, 
nor conversely is there an instance of a father's name 
appearing among the sons. 

4^A, The names of the sons consist of a few Pictish 
names borne by sons of different fathers. These are — 
6 Drusts, 5 Talorgs, 3 Nectans, 2 Galans, 6 Gartnaidhs, 
4 Brudes. In no case does the name of a father occur 
twice in the list of fathers. 

5th, In the list there are two cases of sons bearing 
Pictish names, whose fathers are known to have been 
strangers, and these are the only fathers of whom we 
have any account. They are — 1. Talorg Macainfrit. 
His father was undoubtedly Ainfrit, son. of AetheLfrith, 
King of Northumbria, who took refuge among the Picts, 
and afterwards became King of Northumbria ; 2. Brude 
Mac Bile. His father was a Welshman, King of the 
Strath-Clyde Britons. In an old poem Brude Mac Bile 
is called son of the King of Ailcluaide, i.e. Dumbarton ; 
and when, by the battle of Drunichen, he became King 
of the Picts, another old poem says, "to-day Brude 
fights a battle about the land of his grandfather." 


The fact that the only fathers of whom we have any 
account are known to have been strangers — especially 
when taken along with the other facts which we possess 
about the Picts — raises a strong presumption that all 
the fathers were men of other tribes. At any rate 
there remains the fact, after every deduction has been 
made, that the fathers and mothers were in no case of 
the same family name. 

We have now, by an irresistible array of instances, 
established the fact of exogamy being a most widely 
prevailing principle of marriage law among primitive 
races. We have found the areas to be, for the chief 
part, conterminous within which exogamy and the 
practice of capturing wives de facto prevails. Farther, 
in aU the modern instances in which the symbol of 
capture is most marked, we have found that marriage 
within the tribe is prohibited as incest, as among the 
Khonds, the Fuegeans, the Kalmucks, and Circassians ; 
also that in several cases where traces of the symbol 
appear, as among the Nogais and the Kirghiz, exogamy 
is more or less perfectly observed. We have seen good 
reason for thinking that exogamy and the practice of 
capture de facto, co- existed among the old Celts ; and 
that in that co-existence lies the explanation of the 
symbol among the French, the Welsh, and the plebeians 
of Eome. Of the jus connuhii of the Muscovites and 
Livonians in former times we have no direct information. 
Magnus is silent on the subject. But it is implied in 
his narrative that husband and wife invariably belonged 
to different kinships and village communities. We 


have found exogamy and the symbol co-existing in 
ancient India. Not to dwell on the slighter and more 
doubtful instances, we think it must now be admitted 
that we have sufficiently proved both the existence of 
exogamous tribes, and that among such tribes there 
prevails, or has prevailed, a system of capturing women 
for wives. 



The state of hostility is a theme which requires no 
research to illustrate it. It is a fact too familiar to re- 
quire demonstration. If war is a lamentable feature of 
human life, it is not quite so ugly among savages as 
when waged by civilised men. In proportion to their 
masses and the weight of the interests at stake, the 
advanced nations are perhaps quite as frequently em- 
broiled as the most barbarous ; also in their case the 
natural beneficence — if we may so caU it — of the impulse 
to feud is not always apparent. In the lower stages of 
society we recognise war as a condition of the rise of 
governments, and of the subordination of classes — its 
agonies as the growing pains of civil society ; in the 
higher it appears too often as a mere scourge of man- 
kind, deforming and impairing, if not destroying, the 
precious results and accumulations of long periods of 
peace and industry. 

If the wars of savages are petty, they are habitual. 
Whde the domestic affections are little pronounced, the 
social are confined to the smallest fraction of humanity 


Whoever is foreign to a group is hostile to it. Even in 
comparatively advanced stages of savagery, groups rarely 
combine for common purposes ; when they do — the ob- 
ject of the combination being accomplished — they return 
to their isolated independence. And when tribes have 
combined in nations, and the nations have become polite, 
it is yet some time before a distinction is drawn between 
strangers and enemies. No wonder if the distinction be 
not made by savages. Whoever is not with them is 
against them — a rival in the competition for food, a 
possible plunderer of their camp and ravisher of their 
women. Lay out the map of the world, and wherever 
you find populations unrestrained by the strong hand 
of government, there ypu will find. perpetual feud, tribe 
against tribe, and family against family. 

It would be superfluous to select particular districts 
from which to illustrate this truth, exemplifications of 
which we have already, in so many instances, had occa- 
sion to see. The state of hostility is the normal state 
of the race in early times. It is incidental to the 
separation and independence of men in small commu- 
nities ; and, while the arts are as yet in their infancy, 
smaU communities aue a necessary result of the conditions 
of subsistence. Thus Lot separates from Abraham. 
Jacob goes one way and Esau another. And with 
separation comes estrangement — diff'erences of language 
and habits — hostility. TiU in a short time blood rela- 
tions are as much apart — as foreign to one another — as 
people of diflFerent races and states. 



At the outset of our argument it was seen that if it 
could be shown that exogamous tribes existed, and that 
the usual relations of savage tribes to each other were 
those of hostility, we should have found a social con- 
dition in which it was inevitable that wives should 
systematically be procured by capture. It also appeared 
that if the existence of exogamous tribes either actually 
capturing their wives, or observing the symbol of capture 
in their marriage ceremonies, should be established in a 
reasonable number of cases, it would be a legitimate in- 
ference that exogamy has prevailed wherever we find a 
system of capture, or the form of capture, existing. We 
now confidently submit that the conditions requisite for 
this inference have been amply established in the three 
preceding chapters ; so that we may conclude that 
wherever capture, or the form of capture, prevails, or 
has prevailed, there prevails, or has prevailed, exogamy. 
Conversely, we may say that, wherever exogamy can be 
found, we may confidently expect to find, after due 


investigation, at least traces of a system of capture. We 
have traced the law and the corresponding practice 
among tribes scattered over a large portion of the globe. 
What farther knowledge of rude tribes now existing 
may show to us it would be idle to conjecture ; but it 
might be plausibly maintained, upon the facts already 
known to us, that the principle of exogamy has in fact 
prevailed, and the system of capturing wives in fact 
been practised at a certain stage among every race of 

Perhaps there is no question leading deeper into the 
foundations of civil society than that which regards the 
origin of exogamy, unless it be the cognate question of 
the origin of caste, which admits, however, more readily 
of ingenious surmises, and what mathematicians call 
singular solutions. We believe this restriction on mar- 
riage to be connected with the practice in early times of 
femal e infa nticide which, rendering women scarce, led at 
once to polyandry within the tribe, and the capturing of 
women from without. Female infanticide — common 
among savages everywhere — prevails as a system, and 
has been customary from time immemorial amongst 
many of the races that exhibit the symbol of capture.^ 
With some of the exogamous races it appears to be the 

1 The Circassians have not the practice. But there is reason 
to believe that they only commenced sparing their daughters when 
they found a profitable market for them. For an explanation of 
the effect of the law of blood-feud on the practice of infanticide, see 
the end of Chap. VIII. 

[A short essay on the origin of exogamy will be included in a 
second series of Studies in Ancient History^ 


rule to kill all female children, except the first-born 
when a female. To tribes surrounded by enemies, and, 
unaided by art, contending with the difficulties of sub- 
sistence, sons were a source of strength, both for defence 
and in the quest for food, daughters a source of weak- 
ness. Hence the cruel custom which, leaving the 
primitive human hordes with very few young women 
of their own — occasionally with none ^ — and, in any 
case, seriously disturbing the balance of the sexes 
within the hordes, forced them to prey upon one 
another for wives. Usage, induced by necessity, would 
in time establish a prejudice among the tribes observing 
it — a prejudice strong as a principle of religion, as 
every prejudice relating to marriage is apt to be — 
against marrying women of their own stock, r A survey 
of the facts of primitive life, and the breakdown of 
exogamy in advancing communities, exclude the notion 
that the law originated in any innate or primary feeling 
against marriage with kinsfolk. Indeed, we shall here- 
after see that it is probable that necessity may have 
established the prejudice against marrying women of 
the group even before the facts of blood-relationship 
had made any deep impression on the human mind. 
At present it may be observed that the existence of 
infanticide, so widespread, in itself indicates how slight 
the strength of blood-ties was in primitive times. To 
form an adequate notion, on the other hand, of the 

1 In one village of the Phweelongmai, on the eastern frontier of 
India, Colonel Macculloch found in 1849 that there was not a single 
female child. 


extent to which tribes might, by means of infanticide, 
deprive themselves of their women, we have only to 
bear in mind the multitude of facts which testify to th e 
thou ^tlessness and Improvidence^ of men d uring the 
childish stage of the human mind. 

To show that the analysis by which the true 
solution of the questions respecting endogamy and 
exogamy is to be obtained, is the analysis of a series of 
phenomena which appears to form a progression, we 
notice the following as the divisions into which the 
less advanced portions of mankind fall when ranked 
according to their rules as to connubium : — 

Exogamy Pure. — 1. Tribal (or family) system. — 
Tribes separate. All the members of each tribe of the 
same blood, or feigning themselves to be so. Marriage 
prohibited between the members of the tribe. 

2. Tribal system. — Tribe a congeries of family 
groups, falling into divisions, clans, thums, etc. No 
connubium between members of same division : con- 
nubium between aH the divisions. 

3. Tribal system. — Tribe a congeries of family 
groups embracing several village communities or 
nomadic hordes : members of families (or primitive 
stock groups) somewhat interfused. No connubium 
between persons whose family name points them out as 
being of the same stock. 

4 Triioal system. — Tribe in divisions. No connu- 
bium between members of the same division : connu- 
bium between some of the divisions ; only partial 
connubium between others — e.g., a man of one may 


marry a woman of another, but a woman of the former 
may not marry a man of the latter. Approach to 

5. Tribal system. — Tribe in divisions. No connu- 
bium between persons of the same stock : connubium 
between each division and some other. No connubium 
between some of the divisions. Caste. 

Endogamy Pure. — 6. Tribal (or family) system. — 
Tribes separate. All the members of each tribe o| the 
same blood, or feigning themselves to be so. Connu- 
bium between members of the tribe : marriage without 
the tribe forbidden and punished. 

7. Tribal system indistinct. — Members of primitive 
(stock) groups interfused. (1.) Marriage forbidden 
except between persons whose famUy name points them 
out as being of the same stock. (2.) Marriage forbidden 
except between the members of particular families. 
Persons having connubium marked as a caste, old tribal 
divisions being lost sight of. 

Although these tribal systems may be arranged as 
above so as to seem to form a progression, of which the 
extremes are pure exogamy on the one hand, and 
endogamy — transmuted into caste 6f the Mantchu and 
Hindu types — on the other, we have at present no right 
to say that these systems were developed in anything 
like this order in tribal history. They may represent a 
progression from exogamy to endogamj'-, or from en- 
dogamy to exogamy ; or the middle terms, so to speak, 
may have been produced by the combination of groups 
severally organized on the one and the other of these 


principles. The two types of organization may be 
equally archaic. Men must originally have been free 
of any prejudice against marriage between relations — 
not necessarily endogamous, i.e. forbidding marriage 
except between kindred, but stdl more given to such 
unions than to unions with strangers. From this 
primitive indiflference they may have advanced, some 
to endogamy, some to exogamy.^ 

The separate endogamous tribes are nearly as nu- 
merous, and they are in some respects as rude, as the 
separate exogamous tribes. It may be noted, however, 
that endogamy appears in populations formed by the 
fusion of many tribes, as the almost uniform character- 
istic of the dominant race. Hereafter we shall see how 
a tribe organized on the principle of endogamy might 
be developed from one organized on the principle of 
exogamy, in perfect consistency with the law against 
the intermarriage of relations. And whUe the existence 
of tribes like those of the Mantchu Tartars, who pro- 
hibit marriages between persons whose family names are 
different, is of great weight in favour of endogamy as a 
primitive type of organization ; on the other hand, 
castes like those of India, embracing members of several 
different families, and with a marriage law like that of 
Menu, strongly suggest that many endogamous tribes 
have been developed from tribes organized on the oppo- 

^ [As this sentence has been misunderstood by a distinguished 
author, it seems necessary to suggest that it be read in connection 
with the first sentence of this paragraph and the concluding 
paragraph of this Chapter.] 


site principle. Since, moreover, the reconversion of a 
caste or of an endogamous tribe into an exogamous 
tribe is inconceivable — we have no experience of caste 
disappearing except in advanced communities, and then 
only on a revolution of sentiment being produced by 
poHtical influences — the choice seems to be between re- 
garding the two classes of tribes as organized ah initio 
on distinct principles, or holding the exogamous to be 
the more archaic. 

We may notice as strange, that frequently tribes 
thus oppositely organized are found inhabiting the same 
area. On the sub-Himalayan ranges, for example, are 
the Sodhas, who intermarry with the Rajputs, not with 
each other ; the Magars, who prohibit marriages between 
members of the same thum ; and, again, the Kocch, 
Bodo, Ho, and Dhumal, who are forbidden to marry 
except to members of their own tribes or kiels. And, 
in some districts — as in the hiUs on the north-eastern 
frontier of India, in the Caucasus, and the hiLl-ranges of 
Syria — we find a variety of tribes, proved, by physical 
characteristics and the affinities of language, of one and 
the same original stock, yet in this particular diflPering 
toto coelo from one another — some forbidding marriage 
within the tribe, and some prescribing marriage with- 
out it. 

What has been said is enough to show that the 
question of the comparative archaism of exogamy and 
endogamy is as difficult as it is interesting. We shall 
in the next chapter lead up to a fuUer discussion of that 
question, while investigating more minutely than we 


have hitherto done the conditions of the form of capture 
being evolved, "^^e, shall there endeavour to establish 
the following propositions : — 1. That the most ancient 
system in which the idea of blood-relationship was em- 
bodied was the system of kinship through females only. 
2. That the primitive groups were, or were assumed to 
be, homogeneous. 3. That the system of kinship through 
females only tended to render the exogamous groups 
heterogeneous, and thus to supersede the system of 
capturing wives. 4. That in the advance from savagery 
the system of kinship through females only was suc- 
ceeded by a system which acknowledged kinship 
through males also ; and which, in most cases, passed 
-into a system which acknowledged kinship through 
males only. 5. That the system of kinship through 
males tended to rear up homogeneous groups, and thus 
to restore the original condition of affairs — where the 
exogamous prejudice survived — as regards both the 
practice of capturing wives and the evolution of the 
form of capture. 6. That a local tribe, under the com- 
bined influence of exogamy and the system of female 
kinship, might attain a balance of persons of different 
sexes regarded as being of different descent, and that 
thus its members might be able to intermarry with one 
another, and whoUy within the tribe, consistently with 
the principle of exogamy. 7. That a local tribe, having 
reached this stage and grown proud through success in 
war, might decline intermarriage with other local tribes 
and become a caste. 8. That on kinship becoming 



agnatic, tlie members of such a tribe might yield to the 
universal tendency of rude races to eponomy, and feign 
themselves to be all derived from a common ancestor, 
and so become endogamous. And 9. That there is 
reason to think that some endogamous tribes became 
endogamous in this manner. /, 



The earliest human groups can have had no idea of 
kinship. We do not mean to say that there ever was a 
time when men were not bound together by a feeling 
of kindred. The filial and fraternal affections may be 
instinctive. They are obviously independent of any 
theory of kinship, its origin or consequences ; they are 
distinct from the perception of the unity of blood upon 
which kinship depends ; and they may have existed 
long before kinship became an object of thought. JWhat 
we would say is, that ideas of kinship must be regarded 
as growths — must have grown like all other ideas related 
to matters primarily cognisable only by the senses ; and 
that the fact of consanguinity must have long remained 
unperceived as other facts,, quite as obvious, have done. 
IiTother words, at the root of kinship is a physical fact, 
which could be discerned only through observation and 
reflection, — a fact, therefore, which must for a time 
have been overlooked. No advocate of innate ideas, we 
should imagine, wiU maintain their existence on a 
subject so concrete as relationship by blood. 


A group of kindred in tliat stage of ignorance is the 
rudest that can be imagined. Though they were chiefly 
held together by the feeling of kindred, the apparent 
bond of fellowship between the members of such a 
group would be that they and theirs had always been 
companions in war or the chase — joint- tenants of the 
same cave or grove. To one another they would simply 
be as comrades. As distinguished from men of other 
groups, they would be of the group, and named 
after it. 

Hence, most naturally, on the idea of blood-relation- 
ship arising, would be formed the conception of Stocks. 
Previously individuals had been afHliated not to persons, 
but to some group. The new idea of blood-relationship 
would more readily demonstrate the group to be com- 
posed of kindred than it would evolve a special system 
of blood-ties between certain of the individuals in the 
group. The members of a group would now have be- 
come brethren. As distinguished from men of other 
groups, they would be of the group-stock, and named 
after the group. ^ 

The development of the idea of blood-relationship 
into a system of kinship must have been a work of 

^ It is a question for philologists how far the earliest words 
which denote a human group involve the idea of blood. In one 
case they seem not to have done so. Grant, in his Origin and 
Descent of the Gael, says that teadhloch and cuedichc or coedichc, 
Gaelic names for family, mean, the first, having a common residence ; 
the second, those who eat together. The Gael had, however, the 
more general terms finne and cinne — the former meaning born of 
the same stock, and the latter denoting the tribe. 


time — at least the establishment over any great area of 
any such system as an institution of customary law 
must have been slowly effected. It is most improbable 
that that idea, when first formed, was anywhere at once 
embodied in a weU-defined system of kinship. 

We shall endeavour to show — 

I. Tfiat the most ancient system in which the idea of 
hlood-relationship was embodied, was a system of kin- 
ship through females only. 

Once a man has perceived the fact of consanguinity 
in the simplest case — namely, that he has his mother's 
blood in his veins, he may quickly see that he is of the 
same blood with her other children. A little more reflec- 
tion will enable him to see that he is of one blood with 
the brothers and sisters of his mother. On further 
thought he will perceive that he is of the same blood 
with the children of his mother's sister. And, in process 
of time, following the ties of blood through his mother, 
and females of the same blood, he must arrive at a system 
of kinship through females. The blood -ties through 
females being obvious and indisputable, the idea of 
blood-relationship, as soon as it was formed, must have 
begun to develop, however slowly, into a system em- 
bracing them. What further development this idea 
might have — whether it would simultaneously have a 
development in the direction of kinship through males 
— must have depended on the circumstances connected 
with paternity. If the paternity of a child were usually 
as indisputable as the maternity, we might expect to find 
kinship through males acknowledged soon after kinship 


through females.^ But however natural it might be that 
men should think of blood-ties as possible to be propa- 
gated through fathers, blood-ties through fathers could 
not find a place in a system of kinship, unless circum- 
stances usually allowed of some degree of certainty as 
to who the father of a child was, or of certainty as to 
the father's blood.^ A system of relationship through 
fathers could only be formed — as we have seen that a 
system of relationship through mothers would be formed 
— after a good deal of reflection upon the fact of pater- 
nity. And fathers must usually be known before men will 
think of relationship through fathers — indeed, before 
the idea of a father can be formed. There could be no 
system of kinship through males if paternity was usually, 
or in a great proportion of cases, uncertain. The requisite 
degree of certainty can be had only when the mother is 
appropriated to a particular man as his wife, or to men 
of one blood as wife, and when women thus appropriated 
are usually found faithful to their lords. 

1 It has been doubted whether the blood-tie through the father 
is entitled to rank with that through the mother. It may be that 
the connection between father and child is less intimate than that 
between mother and child as regards the transmission of character- 
istics, mental or physical. And the former tie is unquestionably 
less obvious than the latter. It is, however, an undoubted blood- 
tie, and must have been thought of soon after that through mothers. 
All that it concerns us to show in the text is, that when the idea 
of it was formed it could only receive development into a system of 
kinship on certain conditions, which were not easily satisfied. . 

* It will be seen that there may be certainty as to the father's 
blood (as where all the possible fathers are brothers) without there 
being certainty as to the father. 


Considering tliat the history of all the races of men, 
so far as we know it, is the history of a progress from 
the savage state ; considering the social condition of 
rude tribes stUl upon the earth, — remembering that the 
races which can be traced in history had all a previous 
history, which remains unwritten, — it cannot seem a 
very strange proposition that there has been a stage in 
the development of human races when there was no 
such appropriation of women to particular men — ^when, 
in short, marriage, as it exists among civilised nations, 
was not practised. "We believe we shall show, to a suffi- 
cient degree of probability, that there have been times 
when marriage, in this sense, was yet undreamt of. 
Wherever this has been the case, the paternity of 
children must have been uncertain ; the conditions 
essential to a system of kinship through males being 
formed would therefore be wanting ; no such system 
would be formed; there would be — there could be— 
kinship through females only. 

■^ Not to assume that the _progress o f jthe vamus races 
of men from savagery has been a uniform proce ss, tha t 
all the stages which any of them has gone through^ have 
been passed in their order by all, we shall be justified in 
believing that more or less of promiscuity in the con- 
nection of the sexes, and a system of kinship through 
females only, have subsisted among races of men among 
whom no traces of them remain, when we have shown 
their existence in a considerable number of cases — if in 
these there appear nothing exceptional. After what has 
been said above, it must be plain that kinship through 


females only, if it exist at all, must be a more archaic 
system of relationship than kinship through males — the 
product of an earlier and ruder stage in human develop- 
ment than the latter — somewhat more than a step farther 
back in the direction of savagery. To prove its existence 
on such a scale as to entitle it to rank among the normal 
phenomena of human development, is, we may now say, 
to prove it the most ancient system of kinship. As 
customs tend to perpetuate themselves and die hard, it 
will not in any degree make against our explanation of 
the origin of kinship through females only, that it 
should be found in some cases along with marriage 
relations which allow of certainty as to fathers. It is 
inconceivable that anything but the want of certainty 
on that point could have long prevented the acknowledg- 
ment of kinship through males ; and in such cases we 
shall be able to conclude that such certainty has formerly 
been wanting — that more or less promiscuous intercourse 
between the sexes has formerly preva.iled. The connec- 
tion between these two things — uncertain paternity and 
kinship through females only, seems so necessary — that 
of cause and effect — that we may confidently infer the 
one where we find the other. 

Let us see, then, what can be said for the proposition 
that there has been a stage in the progress of men in 
which a woman was not usually appropriated to a 
particular man as his wife. 

^AU the evidence we have goes to show that men 
were from the beginning gregarious. The g eologica l 
recOTxT distinctly exhibits them in groups — naked hun- 


tors or feeders upon shell-fish, leading a precarious life of 
squalid misery. This testimony is confirmed by all 
history. We hear nothing in the most ancient times 
ofindividuals except as being members of groups. The 
history of property is the history of the development of 
proprietary rights inside groups, which were at first the 
only owners ; ^ and of all other personal rights — even 
including the right in ofi'spring — it may be said that 
their history is that of the gradual assertion of the 
claims of individuals against the traditional rights of 
groups. ^ 

We, of course, know nothing about the co-ordination 
of the sexes in the earliest groups. The reader knows 
already what must be our conjecture as to what it was. 
We can trace the line of human progress far back to- 
wards , brutishness ; finding as we go back the noble 
faculties peculiar to man weaker and weaker in their 
manifestations, producing less and less effect, — at 
last scarcely any efi"ect at all — upon his position and 
habits. As we go back, we find more and more in men 
the traits of gregarious animals, slighter and slighter 
indications of operative intellect. As among other 
gregarious animals, the unions of the sexes were pro- 
bably, in the earliest times, loose, transitory, and in some 
degree promiscuous. 

Before the invention of the arts, and the formation of 
provident habits, the struggle for existence must often have 
become very serious. The instincts of self-preservation, 
therefore, must have frequently predominated and shaped 

1 Ancient Law, ut supra, p. 268. 


the features of society freely, as if the unselfisli affections 
had no place in human nature. None of the races of 
mankind can have been spared the cruel experience of 
this initiatory stage ; or can have escaped the effects of 
that experience on its character and customs. Even 
those most favourably situated must have had long 
periods of trial, and have suffered from the incessant 
hostility of neighbours. So, without supposing the 
course of human events to have been uniform, we must 
conceive of early human society as having been through- 
out affected by influences of the same general, unfriendly 
character, and as having been determined, though per- 
haps by unequal pressure, towards one uniform type in 
all its parts. 

Foremost among the results of this early struggle for 
food and security, must have been an effect upon the 
balance of the sexes. As braves and hunters were 
required and valued, it would be the interest of every 
horde to rear, when possible, its healthy male children. 
It would be less its interest to rear females, as they 
would be less capable of self-support, and- of contributing, 
by their exertions, to the common good. In this lies 
the only explanation which can be accepted of the origin 
of those systems of female infanticide still existing, the 
discovery of which from time to time, in out-of-the-way 
places, so shocks our humanity. It is of no consequence 
by what theories the races who practise infanticide now 
defend the practice.^ There can be no doubt that its 

1 Often, as among the Khonds, it is found to be an institution 
of religion. 


origin is everywhere referable to that early time of 
struggle and necessity which we have been con- 

What is now true in varjdng degrees of all the rudest 
races may be assumed to have been true of all the 
earliest groups. We may predicate of the primitive 
groups that they were all or nearly all marked by a 
want of balance between the sexes — the males being in 
the majority. The reader will have little difficulty in 
granting that we may do so when he reflects on the 
prevalence of exogamy, the origin of which must be 
referred to that want of balance. And we think he will 
be still more ready to make the concession when we 
shall have surveyed the facts connected with polyandry 
— the origin of which must be referred to the same 

What diminished the number of the female sex 
would increase the importance of women. The first 
result of the balance of the sexes being against the 
females, must have been to give every woman more 
than one, it might be several wooers. Apart from any dis- 
proportion of the sexes, we might expect the more engaging 
females of a horde to be surrounded by suitors. Savages 
are unrestrained by any sense of deKcacy from a co- 
partnery in sexual enjoyments ; and, indeed, in the 
civilised state, the sin of great cities shows that there 
are no natural restraints sufficient to hold men back 
from grosser copartneries. But within a horde possess- 
ing i&\w women, such copartneries would be a necessity. 
And as savages assert for themselves a high degree of 


independence, it is obvious that grave difficulties must 
have surrounded the constitution and regulation of such 
copartneries. And to the consideration of these diffi- 
culties we are led the instant we conceive of the 
primitive groups as containing fewer women than men. 

The men of a group must either have quarrelled 
about their women and separated, splitting the horde 
into hostile sections ; or, in the spirit of indifference, 
indulged in savage promiscuity. That quarrels and 
divisions were of frequent occurrence cannot be 
doubted. These were the first wars for women, and 
they went to form the habits w:hich established exogamy. 
And whether quarrels arose or not, we are led to con- 
template groups — the horde or its sections — indulging 
in a promiscuity more or less general. The quarrels 
must have been between sections of the hordes rather 
than between individuals. No individual at that stage 
could well carry off a woman, isolate himself, and found 
a family. However brave and strong, he could scarcely 
maintain his independence for any time against nume- 
rous assailants. Unless these quarrels went the length 
of completelydisintegrating the groups — a result which 
the gregarious nastjire of men tended to prevent — ^we 
must arrive at last at groups within which harmony was 
maintained through indifference and promiscuity. 

These groups would hold their women, like their 
other goods, in common. And the children, while 
attached to mothers, would belong to the horde.^ We 

1 The tie between motlaer and child, which exists as a matter of 
necessity during infancy, is not vmfrequently found to be lost sight 


find traces of the former existence of groups of this 
description; and it is probable that before the rise of 
kinship, all the human groups were of that model. 

On the rise of kinship, the difl&culty due to the 
scarcity of women would more easily be overcome. 
The first advance from a general promiscuity — assuming 
its existence — would naturally be to a promiscuity less 
general — to arrangements between small sets of men to 
attach themselves to a particular woman. Previous to 
the establishment of a system of kinship — when men 
were bound to each other only by the tribal tie — it is 
obvious that there would constantly be difi&culties in 
the way of their forming such combinations. When, 
however, the system of kinship through females only 
had been firmly established, every group stood resolved 
into a number of small brotherhoods, each composed of 
sons of the same mother. And within these, the feeling 
of close kinship would simplify the constitution of the 
polyandrous arrangement. 

Now, here, at length, we are-^ipOn the firm ground 
of fact. We have examples of general promiscuity ; 
and examples of modified promiscuity, in which, with 
a pretence of marriage, the woman may bestow her 
favours upon any one, under certain restrictions as to 
rank and family. We have numerous examples of 
polyandry, and they are such as to show that polyandry 

of among savages on the age of independence being reached. The 
liability of mothers to be carried ofE would, among exogamous races, 
simplify the general filiation of children to the group, rather than 
to mothers. 


must be regarded as a modification of and advance from 
promiscuity. We have examples of polyandry in which 
the wife has several husbands, who are not necessarily 
relatives ; and very many examples of polyandry in 
which the husbands are all brothers. We often find 
these two forms of polyandry in the same district, in 
difi'erent sections of the population : here, the husbands 
as a rule, are no relations ; there, the husbands as a rule, 
are brothers. Further, where the husbands are not 
brothers, we find the system of relationship through 
females only ; and, so enduring is custom, we very often 
find that system where marriage has long been so regu- 
lated as to permit of kinship through males. In many 
cases we find traces of the system of kinship through 
females only lingering about the laws of marriage and 
succession to estates and titles, even where male kinship 
has been long established. Moreover, in nearly all the 
cases in which traces are to be found of kinship through 
females only, traces of polyandry also remain. Thus, 
what we find is just what was to be expected, if the 
account we have ofi"ered of the origin of polyandry were 

We repeat, that in showing the prevalence of poly- 
andry, we shall be showing the prevalence of a modifi- 
cation of promiscuity. This is manifest as regards the 
ruder species of polyandry, in which the husbands are 
not relations. It is equally, though less obviously, true 
of the less rude polyandry in which the husbands are 
brothers. From the way in which polyandry is pre- 
sented to us, we shall have a proof that the less rude 


polyandry was developed from the ruder by the help of 
the system of kinship through females only — was super- 
induced, that is, upon a promiscuity less qualified than 
itself. Promiscuity, producing uncertainty of fatherhood, 
led to the system of kinship through mothers only. This 
kinship paved the way for polyandry such as we commonly 
find it ; and this form of polyandry introduced male 
kinship.^ That, along with the ruder polyandry, we 
always find the system of kinship through females only, 
and that where the less rude form prevails we can gener- 
ally trace that system, is moreover a proof a posteriori 
of what we have shown must be the case, that the 
origin of kinship through females only is referable to 
uncertainty of male parentage. 

We shall not concern ourselves with the direct 
evidence which might be adduced to show that there 
once prevailed among men a promiscuity less qualified 
than polyandry. We may however recall the fact, that 
tradition is found everywhere pointing to a time when 
marriage was unknown, and to some legislator to whom 
it owed its institution : among the Egyptians to Menes ; 
the Chinese to Fohi ; the Greeks to Cecrops ; the Hindus 
to Svetaketu." And we shall proceed to show how much 
evidence remains to give verisimilitude to these tradi- 

1 We shall see farther on how numerous the known cases are in 
which the progress to male kinship and the patriarchal system was 
a progress having this kind of polyandry for one of its stages. The 
other main highway of progress must have lain through the system 
of confining women — a system probably established by exogamy and 
the practice of capturing wives. 

2 See Muir's Sanskrit Texts, 1860. Part ii. p. 336. 


tions. Passing over communities in which, according 
to ancient historians, something like a general promis- 
cuity prevailed — such as the Massagetee, Agathyrsi, and 
the ancient Spartans ; passing over also the numerous 
races now existing, which, according to modern travellers, 
have no conception of conjugal fidelity^ — we shall now 

1 It may be as well to append some modern examples of pro- 
miscuity, and of practices whichi have the same effect in rendering 
uncertain male parentage. The Ansarians have their wives in 
common ; the people of Martawan, of the tribe of Ansarians, let 
out their wives and daughters (Volney, Travels, chap, xxvii.). The 
Keiaz (Paropamisans) lend their wives to their guests (Latham, 
Des. Eihn., vol. ii. p. 246) ; so do the Eimauk (Caubul), — Elphin- 
stone, 1815, p. 483 ; so, we are informed, do the Kandyans. The 
Mpongme (Africa) lend wives (Reade, Sav. Afr., p. 259); so do the 
Koryaks and Chukchi, who lend out daughters as well (N.E. Siberia), 
— Erkman, vol. ii. p. 531, and see Cochrane's Jowrney, 1825, vol. i- 
p. 336. The Koryaks are also polyandrous. The same disregard 
of conjugal fidelity appeared in Caindu, Casca (Turkistan Tartary), 
and in Cumana (Gaya, p. 104 ; Marco Polo, ut infra, p. 258). We 
find it now among the Aimaks {Des. Eihno., vol. i. p. 333. It was 
customary in Kamul (Marco Polo, Bohn's edition, p. 110). Mon- 
tesquieu, b. 16, c. viii., remarks on the licentious wantonness of the 
women of Patau, against which the men had to adopt measures of 
self -protection. Mr. Wilson of Mussoorie, in an admirable report 
on the Puharies of Gurwahl (^1 Summer Ramble in tlve Himalayas, 
q. V. p. 182, says of the Gungarees and Perbuttees : " Their im- 
morality is something incredible — chastity being little appreciated 
even where it does exist." In various other quarters we find prac- 
tices fatal to certainty of male parentage ; such as frequent divorces, 
e.g. among the Bedouins (Burckhardt, Notes, i. Ill); and niarriages 
for an agreed-upon term of endurance, usually short. Such mar- 
riages were usual in Sounan, Arabia Felix (Hamilton's New Account 
of the East Indies, vol. i. p. 51) ; in Siam {Ibid., vol. ii. p. 279). In 
China such marriages are said to be still customary. In a recent 
report of the proceedings of the Society of Sainte-Enfance in China, 


go on to consider the regulated promiscuity known as 
polyandry, and see to wliat extent it exists, and what 
traces of its former existence stDl remain. 

Let us first see what is the area over which poly- 
andry now prevails. It prevails universally in Tibet, 
and is common in the Himalayan and sub-Himalayan 
regions adjoining Tibet ; in the valley of Kashmir ; 
among the Spiti, in Ladak; in Kistewar and Sirmor. 
It occurs among the Telingese ; in the Sivalik moun- 
tains, and in Kasia. There are unmistakable traces 
of its existence till recently in Gurwhal, Sylhet, and 
Cachar. Farther south in India we find polyandry 
among the Tudas of the NUgherry HiUs, the Coorgs 
of Mysore, and the Nairs, the Maleres, and Poleres 

in the Esperance of Nancy, it is said that, in many parts, Chinamen 
may repudiate their wives, and marry again, every year. As a 
result, the children belong to the mother, who has over them the 
power of life or death. The same must have been the case in 
Turkistan (Marco Polo, ut supra, p. 99). According to Livingstone 
(Travels, p. 394), marriage in Loando is almost unknown — an un- 
settled concubinage. And see Ibid, p. 496, for an example of 
savage indifference as to marital purity. In the Polynesian 
Mythology, we have an excellent casual proof of the uncertainty of 
male parentage, even where there is marriage (polygamous). A 
young man distinguishes himself, and turns out to be the chief's 
son. He was " a young man, the name of whose father had never 
been told by his mother." The lady was one of the chief's wives ! 
And see Turner's Tibet, p. 10, and M'CuUoch's Munniepore, for 
examples of a system of pawning wives. See also, for similar or 
worse customs, Buchanan's Journey from Madras, 1807, vol. ii. 
pp. 129, 492, and vol. iii. p. 66 ; Krusenstern's Voyage, 1813, vol. ii. 
p. 245 (Kamschatka) ; La Perouse's Voyage, 1798, vol. ii. p. 195 
(Island of Maouna) ; MaundeviUe, chap, xxiii. (Chatay) ; and Hue's 
Travels, vol. ii. p. 142, Nat. lUus. Lib. 



of Malabar. We find it off the Indian coast in Ceylon ; 
and going eastward strike on it as an ancient though 
now almost superseded custom in New Zealand, and in 
one or two of the Pacific islands. Going northward we 
meet it again in the Aleutian islands ; and taking the 
continent to the west and north of the Aleutians, we 
find it among the Kbryaks to the north of the Okhotsk 
Sea. Crossing the Eussian Empire to the west side, we 
find polyandry among the Saporogian Cossacks : we thus 
have traced it at points half round the globe. This is 
not all, however. Polyandry is found in several parts 
of Africa and of America. We have the authority of 
Humboldt for its prevalence among the tribes on the 
Orinoco, and he also vouches for its former prevalence 
in Lanzerota, one of the Canary Islands.^ 

From ancient history we learn that polyandry at one 
time existed over even a greater area. Traces of it 

1 Turner's Tibet, 1800, p. 348. Vigne's Kashmir, 1842, vol. i. 
p. 37. Cunningham's Ladah, 1854, p. 306. Buchanan's Journey, 
dec, 1807, vol. ii. pp. 408—412. Archer's Upper India, 1833, vol. i. 
p. 185. Latham's Descriptive Ethnology, 1859, vol. i. pp. 24 — 28 ; 
vol. ii. pp. 398, 496, and 462. Humboldt's Personal Nwrrative 
(WUliams's Translation), 1819, vol. i. chap. i. p. 84 ; and vol. v. 
part ii. p. 549. Hamilton's New Account of the East Indies, 1727, 
vol. i. pp. 274 and 308. Reade's Savage Africa, p. 43. Erkman's 
Travels in Siberia, vol. ii. p. 531. Marriage Ceremonies, by Seignior 
Gaya, 1698, pp. 70 and 96. Tennent's Ceylon, 1859, vol. ii. p. 429. 
"Legend of Eupe," Grey's Polynesian Mythology, 1854, p. 81. A Sum- 
mer Ramble in the Himalayas, 1860, p. 202. Fisher's Memoir of 
Sylhet, (Sec, in Journal of Asiatic Soc Bengal, vol. ix. p. 834. 
Asiat. Res., vol. v. p. 13. Our information regarding the Saporogian 
Cossacks has been obtained from Sir John M'Neil. 


remained in the time of Tacitus among the Germans.^ 
And while in certain cantons of Media, according to 
Strabo,^ polygyny was authorised by express law, which 
ordained every inhabitant to maintain at least seven 
wives ; in other cantons the opposite rule was in force : 
a woman was allowed to have many husbands, and they 
looked with contempt on those who had less than five. 
Caesar informs us that in his time polyandry prevailed 
among 'the Britons.' We find direct evidence of its 
existence among the Picts in the Irish Nennius,* not to 
mention traces of it in the Pictish Laws of Succession. 
Further we find traditions of it among the Hindus^ — 
especially among the Eajputs. And we find it among 
the Getes of Transoxiana (the Yuti or Yuechi of the 
Chinese historians).® To see where else it prevailed we 
must go back upon our authorities and examine the 
various phases of polyandry which they present, and ob- 
tain a test for detecting its presence where historical 
evidence of its existence is wanting. 

The ruder form of polyandry, as we have said, is that 
in which the husbands are not brothers ; the less rude 
is that in which they are brothers. The polyandry of 
the Kasias, the Nairs, and the Saporogian Cossacks, 

1 German, xx., Latham's edn., p. 67, et seq. 

2 Lib. xi. Casaub, 526 ; and see Goguet, vol. iii. book vi. c. i. 

* Be Bello GcMico, lib. v. c. xiv. 

* Appendix LI. 

* Tod's Annals, <{rc. of Rajaslhan, 1829, vol. i. p. 48 ; and see 
Max Miiller's Hist, of Sans. Anc. Lit., pp. 45, et seq.; Tod's Travels, 
1839, p. 464. 

" Tod's Travels, ut supra. 

H 2 


appears to be purely of the ruder sort, and is attended 
by the system of kinship through females only. It is 
left doubtful what is the form of the institution in some 
instances, as in the Aleutian Islands, and among the 
Koryaks. But in all the other cases in which poly- 
andry occurs, the authorities show that the ruder form 
occurs among the lower classes wherever the less rude 
occurs, except in Tibet, where polyandry is universal 
and the husbands are always brothers ; except in Ma- 
labar, where polyandry is universally practised by all 
classes, saving the Brahmans only, but is of the ruder 
species among the high caste Nairs, and of the less 
rude among the lower castes, the. Teers, Maleres, and 
Poleres. It is in the nature of the case that aU the 
possible forms of polyandry must lie in between, or be 
embraced in, the Nair and the. Tibetan forms. 

Let us attend then to the accounts we have of 
these two forms. Of the Nair polyandry we have three 
accounts. The account in the Asiatic Researches} is 
that among the Nairs it is the custom for one woman 
" to have attached to her two males, or four, or perhaps 
more, and they cohabit according to rules." With 
this account that of Hamilton agrees,^ excepting 
that he states that a Nair woman could have no 
more than twelve husbands, and had to select these 
under certain restrictions as to rank and caste. On 
the other hand, Buchanan states^ that the women after 

1 Vol. V. p. 13. 

2 Account of the East Indies, ut supra, vol. i. p. 308. 
2 Buchanan's Journey, vol. ii. p. 411. 


marriage ^ are free to cohabit witli any number of men, 
under certain restrictions as to tribe and caste. It is 
consistent with the three accounts, and is directly stated 
by Hamilton, that a Nair may be one in several combi- 
nations of husbands ; that is, he may have any number 
of wives. The accounts, however, differ in regard to one 
important particular. Buchanan represents the wife as 
living in family with her mother or brother, while 
Hamilton represents her as having " an house built for 
her own conveniency " on being married to the first of 
her husbands. In the Asiatic Researches the wife is 
represented as living with her mother or brother. The 
probability is that both arrangements are occasionally 
adopted, the more usual course being for the wife to 
remain in the family of her mother and brothers. In 
Ceylon, where the higher and lower polyandry co-exist, 
marriage is of two sorts — Deega or Beena — according 
as the wife goes to live in the house and village of her 
husbands, or as the husband or husbands come to live 
with her in or near the house of her birth. ^ And 
among the Kandyans the rights of inheritance of a 

1 In the Asiatic Besearches, it is said, " The Nairs practise not 
marriage, except so far as may be implied from their tying a thread 
round the neck of the woman on the first occasion." 

2 See Forbes's Ceylon, 1840, vol. i. p. 333. Mr. Starke, late 
Chief-Justice of Ceylon, says that " sometimes a deega married girl 
returned to her parents' house and was there provided with a beena 
husband who lived with her in family " (private letter). The beena 
husband's tenure of office seems to have been very insecure. See 
Forbes, ut supra. The Kandyans are now under British rule, and 
their marriages regulated by a special ordinance. 


woman and her children are found to depend on whether 
the woman is a beena or a deega wife. 

The three accounts which we have of the Nair poly- 
andry are agreed that the Nair husbands are usually 
not brothers — usually not relatives — and that the in- 
stitution leaves male parentage and the father's blood 
quite uncertain. " In consequence of this strange 
manner of propagating the ^ species," says Buchanan/ 
" no Nair knows his father, and every man looks upon 
his sister's children as his heirs. He indeed looks upon 
them with the same fondness that fathers in other 
parts of the world have for their own children, and he 
would be considered as an unnatural monster were he 
to show such signs of grief at the death of a child, 
which, from long cohabitation with and love for its 
mother, he " might suppose to be his own, as he did at 
the death of a child of his sister. A man's mother 
manages his family ; and after her death his eldest sister 
assumes the direction. Brothers almost always live 
under the same roof; but if one of the family separates 
from the rest, he is always accompanied by his favourite 
sister. A man's movable property, after his death, is 
divided among the sons and daughters of all his sisters ; 
and if there are lands, their management falls to the 
eldest male of the family.'"^ 

Now here, derived from the ruder polyandry, is an 
exceedingly rude, the rudest, form of family system 
with which we are acquainted. And it is a sort of 

1 Ut supra, vol. ii. p. 412. ^ See Buchanan, vol. ii. p. 594. 


family system which is found, more or less modified in 
some of its features, in several cases, where marriage is 
now either monogamous or polygamous. Its chief 
features are the absence of a paternal head, and the 
system of female succession. Among the Kocch, with 
whom marriage is now monogamous, we find the same 
system, excepting that the family circle includes the 
daughter's husband, as a subordinate member of the 
family. A Kocch man goes, on his marriage, like the 
beena husband of Ceylon, to live in family with his wife 
and her mother; on his marriage all his property is 
made over to his wife ; and on her death her heirs are 
her daughters.^ Here we conclude that the advance 
from the ruder polyandry to monogamy took place in 
some way consistent with the preservation of the main 
features of the family system peculiar to the ruder 
polyandry — consistent with the mother's maintaining 
her position as the head of the family, and with an in- 
crease of the influence of women as connecting links in 
the social and proprietary systems. We shall pre- 
sently see that the advance in this direction must 
be counted exceptional ; at the same time it cannot 
well be doubted that such a family system as we find 
among the Kocch had its origin in the ruder species 
of polyandry. 

What, then, was the normal line of progress ? We 

think that we shall be able to show what it was — that 

it lay between the lower and higher polyandry. In the 

accounts we have, we can detect stages of preparation 

1 Des. Ethn., vol. i. p. 96. 


for the change from the former species of poly- 
andry to the latter. We must regard as the rudest 
cases those in which the wife lives not with her hus- 
bands, but with her mother or brothers. In these cases 
a woman's children are born in and belong to her 
mother's house. In the cases next in order of rudeness, 
the wife passes into cohabitation, according to fixed 
rules, with the husbands, in a house of her own — be- 
coming thus detached from her family, though stiU 
connected with it through the right of her children to 
become heirs to the family estate. Her children would 
still belong to her mother's family — the want of a com- 
munity of blood and interests among the husbands pre- 
venting the appropriation of the children to them. 
Such cases, however — detaching the woman from her 
family — would prepare the way for a species of mar- 
riage still less rude, in which the woman passed from 
her family, not into a house of her own, but into the 
famUy of her husbands, in which her children would be 
born, and to which they would belong. This could 
only happen when the husbands were all of one blood, 
and had common rights of property— in short, when 
they were brothers. 

This last was a most important step in advance. 
The girl of a house no longer remained at home with 
her mother and brothers — aiding in and succeeding to 
the management ; she passed into another family, 
associating with the sons thereof as wife ; while her 
place at home was assumed by a stranger — as wife to 
her brothers. There being now a community of blood 


and interests in the husbands, there was nothing to 
prevent the appropriation to them of her children — an 
appropriation which would disqualify the children for 
being heirs to the property of her mother and brothers. 
To give effect now to the old law of succession, would 
be, not to keep property in families, but to introduce a 
system of exchanges of family estates. Moreover, 
when this form of marriage became general, and when 
conjugal fidelity was secured by penalties, we should 
expect to find that the system of kinship through males 
would appear — this species of marriage allowing of 
certainty as to the father's blood, though not of cer- 
tainty as to fathers. A woman's children would become 
the heirs of the husband's family in which they would 
be born, and to which they would belong. 

Now it is this highest development of polyandry, 
and of the family system which polyandry admitted of, 
which we find in Tibet. 

" Here," says Turner, speaking of Tibet,^ " we find 
a practice — that of polyandry — universally prevailing ; 
and see one female associating her fate and fortune with 
all the brothers of a family without any restriction of 
age or of numbers. The choice of a wife is the privi- 
lege of the elder brother. . . . The number of 
husbands is not, as far as I could learn, defined or re- 
stricted within any limits ; it sometimes happens that 
in a small family there is but one male ; and the num- 
ber, perhaps, may seldom exceed that which a native 
of rank, during my residence at Teshoo Loomboo, 

1 Turner's Tibet, 1800, p. 348. 


pointed out to me in a famUy resident in the neighbour- 
hood, in which five brothers were then living very 
happily with one female, under the same connubial 
compact. Nor is this sort of league confined to the 
lower ranks of people alone : it is found also frequently 
in the most opulent families." 

Let us now see to what extent polyandry of the 
Tibetan type can be traced elsewhere than in Tibet; 
and what evidence there is of its being an advance from 
the Nair' species of polyandry. The authorities already 
cited ^ exhibit the Tibetan as the prevailing species of 
polyandry in nearly the whole of the Himalayan and 
sub-Himalayan regions : Kashmir, Ladak, Kinawer, 
Kistewar, and Sirmor. It is the general form of 
polyandry in Ceylon. It is the form which Humboldt 
found among the red-men. " Among the Avaroes and 
the Maypures," he says, "brothers have often but one 
wife." It is the form which C^sar found among the 
Britons. "Uxores habent deni duodenique inter se 
communes, et maxime fratres cum fratribus, et parentes 
cum liberis ; sed si qui sunt ex his nati, eorum habentur 
liberi a quibus primum virgines quseque ductse sunt." ^ 
And to show that the two forms of polyandry are stages 
in a progress, we repeat that almost everywhere, outside 
Tibet, we find the lower form accompanying the higher. 
In some quarters the lower only is known — as in Kasia 
and among the Natrs. In others — Kooloo, for example — 

1 Ante, p. 98. 

2 De Bella Gallico, v. xiv. 


the lower form is prevalent ; the higher ^ also is 
known, but is exceptional. Again, in numerous 
quarters the higher is the general form, and the lower 
the exceptional — as in Ceylon ; and lastly, in some 
quarters, as in Tibet, we lose sight of the lower form 
altogether. The higher polyandry has become a national 

And finding the higher polyandry a national institu- 
tion, we observe that we are in a position to show that 
most probably polyandry formerly prevailed over a still 
vaster area than that within which we have hitherto 
found it. We have seen that with polyandry, of the 
Tibetan type^ wherever it was long and generally 
established, kinship through males must have been 
introduced ; the father's blood, though not the father, 
being certain, where the wife was faithful. We have 
also seen, in the case of the Britons, that the children 
of the woman were accounted to belong to the husband 
who first espoused her ; and that in Tibet, the right of 
choosing the wife belongs to the eldest brother, to 
whom, also, the children of the marriage are held to 
belong. We must now, to obtain what we have been 
in search of — a test of the former presence of polyandry 
— ^look at the Tibetan form of polyandry in a state of 
decadence. We find it in such a state in Ladak. " In 

1 Archer, in his Upper India (1833), vol. i. pp. 235-6, says of 
the Grooah (Kooloo) : " Here one woman cohabits with two, three, 
and four men, and tliMy may even he all brothers ; this practice is 
universal. I was informed of the rules and modes of intercourse, 
all evincing a state of society least beholden to civilisation, or less 
sophisticated than any yet known." 


Ladak,'' says Moorcroffc/ " when an eldest son marries, 
the property of his father (more properly the family 
estate) descends to him, and he is charged with the 
maintenance of his parents. The parents may continue 
to live with him, if he and his wife please ; if not, a 
separate dweUing is provided for them.^ A younger 
son is usually made a Lama. Should there be more 
brothers, and they agree to the arrangement, the juniors 
become inferior husbands to the wife ; all the children, 
however, are considered as belonging to the head of the 
family. The younger brothers have no authority ; they 
wait upon the elder as his servants, and can be turned 
out of doors at his pleasure, without it being incumbent 
upon him to provide for them. On the death of the 
eldest brother, his property, authority, and widow, 
devolve 'upon his next brother." And that whether 
the younger brother has agreed to the polyandrous 
arrangement or not. He has a customary right of 
succession to his brother's property, and to his widow, 
and he cannot take the one without taking the other. 

Here we are brought to consider the meaning and 
origin of the legal obligation which we find laid on 
younger brothers, among certain peoples, to marry in 
their turn the widow of their deceased elder brother. 
There can be no doubt that that obligation was in its 
origin the counterpart of a legal right of succession. 
It is so with the Kirghiz, Aenezes, and Mongols — 

1 Moorcroft and Trebeck's Travels, 1841, vol. i. p. 320. 
^ See M'OuUoch's Munniejmre, pp. 8 and 67, for a similar custom 
among the Loohoopas. 


the next brother being heir even where the elder leaves 

When history begins, the Hebrew law preferred the 
issue to the next brother ; but when he or the next of 
'kin succeeded, it was on the old footing. This is clear 
from the book of Euth.^ The hereditatis emptor of the 
deceased took to wife at the same time his widow, "to 
raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance." 
The obligation to marry the widow was the counterpart 
of the right of succession. And we can see the connec- 
tion between the obligation and heirship dropping slowly 
out of view. In Deuteronomy ^ it is provided that the 
husband's brother shall "perform the duty of an husband's 
brother" to the widow, only when the brethren dwell to- 
gether, and one of them dies childless. The obligation 
is here presented pure — as a duty falling on the brother, 
which it was disgraceful to neglect.^ 

^ Chap. iv. ver. 6. 

* Chap. XXV. ver. 5 — 10. 

[^ In a subsequent essay ("The Levirate and Polyandry," 
Fortnightly Eeview, 1877), portions of which will be included in 
the secbnd series of Studies in Ancient History, the author pointed 
out two errors into which he has fallen in the argument upon the 
Levirate now being stated. Misled by the case of Boaz and Ruth 
(which he took, wrongly, to be an example of the Levirate), he has 
concluded that he has found the Levirate to be the .counterpart of ' 
a right of succession ; and then, owing to this error, he has con- 
nected the Levirate and the law of inheritance noticed on 
page 108 — as if the two must have had something more in 
common than their being both of them remainders of polyandry. 
Now (as is shown in the essay referred to) the Levirate occurs only 
where the succession of son to father has been established, and that 
so firmly that even a fictitious son is preferred to a real brother^so 


In India, by the time when the Institutes of Menu 
were compiled, the obligation was laid on the brother 
only in case the deceased left no son. Grave doubts 

that it belongs to a difEerent stage of the history of the Family from 
the law of inheritance which preferred brothers to sons, and gave a 
surviving brother right to his deceased brother's widow. And, in- 
stead of being the counterpart of a right of succession, it cut out the 
Levir from an inheritance. It imposed upon a surviving brother an 
obligation, that of "raising up seed" to his childless brother de- 
ceased ; and the Levirate child was counted the child of the deceased, 
and was his heir — excluding the Levir. 

[These errors make some modifications necessary at this point. 
It remains, nevertheless, that the same conception of marriage and 
of fatherhood appears in the Levirate and in Tibetan Polyandry. 
In the latter, a wife had all the brothers of a family for husbands. 
With the former, on the husband's death without children, his 
brother filled his place — generally without a marriage, as among 
the Hindoos (among whom this might happen in the husband's life- 
time also if he were childless). And the widow could claim this of 
him — so that she had in a husband's brother, as it were, a husband 
in reserve. Moreover, custom held the deceased to be so efiectually 
replaced by his brother that her child by the brother was counted 
the child of the deceased ; the one brother being taken as equivalent 
to the other, as if it were an indifferent thing which of them was 
father, it was assigned to the brother to whom she had been given 
in marriage. And, with Tibetan Polyandry, her children, by which- 
soever brother begotten, would have been the children of the man 
who had taken her in marriage, the eldest brother, the head of the 
family (see page 107). 

[In either case, the brothers were, in relation to the wife, inter- 
changeable with, and equivalent to, each other, her child being counted 
the child of that brother who had taken her in marriage. Can this, 
in the case of the Levirate, be accounted for consistently with an 
original general practice of monandry ? If not, we are, it would 
seem, forced to regard the Levirate as a relic of polyandrous practice 
which held its ground for a certain contingency after polyandry had 
disappeared, and monandry had become general. The Hindoos, it 


had arisen as to the extent and propriety of the obli- 
gation, the number of sons to be begotten on the 
widow,^ and the terms on which the brother should 
live with her. "The first object of the appointment 
being obtained, according to law, both the brother and 
the widow must live together like a father and daughter 
by affinity." Again, it is doubted whether the obliga- 
tion extends to the twice-born classes. " Such a com- 
mission to a brother or other near kinsman is nowhere 
mentioned in the nuptial texts of the Veda. . . . This 
practice, fit only for cattle, is reprehended by learned 
Brahmans ; yet it is declared to have been the practice 
even of men while Vena had sovereign power." ^ Yet 
elsewhere in the code the obligation is contemplated as 
legal, and provision is made for the rights of succession 
of the issue of the Levirate union. " Should a younger 

may be said, justified the niyoga on the ground that a bride was 
given to the family of the bridegroom and not to the bridegroom 
only — which, of course, is the theory of Tibetan polyandry 
(Apastamba II., 10, 27, 2 — 7. Sacred Books of the East, vol. ii. 
p. 164). 

[The relation of the Levirate to Tibetan polyandry, however, 
cannot be adequately discussed in a note. A fuller consideration of 
it will be found in the forthcoming work above-mentioned; and 
meanwhile reference may be made to the Patriarchal Theory (London, 
1885), ch. 16 & 17. 

[The case of Boaz and Ruth, as has been said above, is not an 
example of the Levirate. Boaz came in, not as Levir, but as Goel 
or redeemer of the inheritance of the dead. The Goel was not re- 
quired by law to marry the widow as a condition of the redemption, 
though no doubt he generally did so.] 

1 Chap. ix. ver. 61, 62. 

^ Chap. ix. ver. 66. 


brother have begotten a son on tbe wife of his deceased 
elder brother, the division (of the estate) must then be 
made equally between that son, who represents the 
deceased, and his natural father : thus is the law 
settled." We repeat, that in Menu's time the obli- 
gation had not only been, to some extent, dissociated 
from the corresponding right of inheritance but was 
falling into disrepute. "We see it also falling into 
desuetude among the Hebrews. In the earliest age 
the Levir had no alternative but to take the widow; 
indeed she was his wife without any form of marriage.^ 
By the Mosaic Law, however, he might get quit of her 
if he chose by submitting to the ceremony of " loosing 
the shoe." 

It is impossible not to believe that we have here 
presented to us successive stages of decay of one and 
the same original institution ; impossible not to connect 
the obligation, in its several phases, with what we have 
seen prevailing in Ladak ; impossible not to regard it 
as having originally been a right of succession, or the 
counterpart of such a right, derived from the practice 
of polyandry. Eegarded as in its origin a right of 
succession, it exhibits the next younger brother as suc- 
ceeding to the universitas of the elder — taking up aU 
his rights and obligations — inter alia, his widow. But 
how came the right of succession to open, as in the 
ruder cases, to the brother in preference to the son of 
the deceased ? We repeat, that the only explanation 
that can be given of this is, that the law of succession 
1 Lewis's Hebrew Republic, 1725, vol. iii. p. 268. 


was derived from polyandry. The succession of 
brothers to one another, in order of age, is a feature 
of the law of succession under both forms of poly- 
andry. Under the ruder, brothers succeed one 
another ; and failing brothers, the sister's children 
come in : under the less rude, brothers succeed one 
another ; and failing brothers, comes in the eldest son 
of the brotherhood. And nowhere, excepting where 
there is or has been polyandry, have we such a 
system of succession — brothers succeeding in preference 
to sons. 

The same conclusion is forced upon us from another 
point of view. In the lowest cases of polyandry the 
children belong to the mother ; in the more advanced 
to the eldest brother (an approach towards agnation). 
Now the peculiarity of the obligation is, in all cases, 
that it w;as an obligation "to raise up seed" to the 
elder brother. The children begotten by the younger 
brother were accounted the children of the elder 
deceased. It is obvious that it could more, easily 
be feigned that the children belonged to the brother 
deceased, if already, at a prior stage, the children of 
the brotherhood had been accounted the children of the 
eldest brother, i.e., if we suppose the obligation to be 
a relic of polyandry. 

Curiously enough. Dr. Latham would invert 
the order of development by deducing the ruder 
fact — polyandry — from the less rude obligation. 
But, clearly, this is an inversion of the order of 
nature — which is progressive — in which the ruder 



gives birtli to the less rude, not the less rude to 
the ruder. ^ 

Assuriaing the correctness of this view of the origin 
of that obligation, we must hold that polyandry in the 
Tibetan form prevailed at one time throughout India ; ^ 
among the race from which the ancient Hebrews were 
descended and among the Moabites and the ancient 
Persians ; ^ among the Druses and all the Arab tribes 
in Syria ; * the Mongols, Ostiaks, Kirghiz Turks, and 
tribes of the Caucasus ; * among the Makololo, and, we 
may believe, many other peoples in Africa/ It is 
needless to repeat that we must also conclude that 
among the peoples just enumerated the Tibetan form 
of polyandry was preceded by the Nair, and, at a still 
earlier date, by utter promiscuity. 

We have found polyandry in so many lands, among 
so many races, and in such phases of progressive de- 
velopment, that we are surely justified in classing it 
among the phenomena most distinctive of — the most 

1 The subject of polyandry has been most carelessly, it seems to 
us, handled by Dr. Latham. It is enough to refer to Des. Ethn. 
vol. ii. p. 463, et seq., where he recklessly lays it down that the 
descensus per wmhilicum is part and parcel of polyandry. 

^ Institutes of Menu, c. iii. § 173, and c. ix. § 57, 58, and § 182 ; 
As. Res., vol. iii. p. 35. 

3 Deut. XXV. 5 — 11; Ruth i. 11 — 13; Klenker, Zendavesta, 
iii. p. 226. 

* Volney's Travels, vol. ii. p. 807 ; Burckhardt's Notes, vol. i. 
p. 112. 

5 Des. Ethn. vol. i. pp. 312, 346, and 455; Haxthausen, 
Trans-Caucasia, p. 403. 

^ Livingstone, p. 185. 


likely to occur at — the earlier stages of the progress of 
any race of men. Its origin can only be ascribed to a 
scarcity of women as compared to men. And the vast 
area over which it anciently prevailed, can leave no 
doubt in the mind that in former times the balance of 
the sexes must have been seriously disturbed (artificially), 
and that we were right in predicating of the primitive 
groups that they usually contained fewer women than 
men. When the phenomena of exogamy — also due to a 
scarcity of women — are contemplated along with the phe- 
nomena of polyandry, the impression this fact produces 
on the mind is almost as strong as the feeling produced 
by demonstration. To whatever extent a want of 
balance between the sexes prevailed, to that extent 
certainty as to male parentage was in the earlier stages 
of progress excluded. "With polyandry itself there is 
uncertainty upon this point. In the lower cases the 
uncertainty is absolute. And regarding, as we must do, 
the higher as an advance from the lower, we are forced 
to conclude that wherever we have found polyandry, 
or traces of it, there must anciently have prevailed the 
system of kinship through females only. 

In a preceding chapter we found the system of kin- 
ship through females only, universally prevailing among 
th Australian Blacks;^ prevailing among the majority 
of the nations of the American Eed-men ; ^ and among 

1 Ante, p. 60. [This statement, however, requires qualification. 
It is now known that there are Australian tribes in which kinship 
is counted through males.] 

2 Ante, p. 65-7. 

I 2 


the South-Sea Islanders.^ That is, we found it among 
peoples now practising polygyny, and which have 
advanced far towards the patriarchal system. We in- 
fer that with these peoples the unions of the sexes were 
originally promiscuous or polyandrous. With regard 
to the Red-men, indeed, there is little ropm for doubting 
that they formerly all practised polyandry. It is now 
occasionally to be found among them, and their system 
of relationship — their names for kinsmen and kins- 
women — ^point to its having been their universal custom. 
Mr. Morgan of Rochester, New York, whose account 
of the Indian nations we have already had occasion to 
refer to, gives the following as radical features of the 
system of relationship prevailing among them : 1. " AU 
the brothers of a father are equally fathers to his 
children (this where there is now no polyandry). 2. 
All the children of several brothers are brothers and* 
sisters to each other; all the grandsons of a man's 
brothers are his grandsons." ^ These features of the 
system bear the stamp of a polyandrous origin ; ^ they 

1 Ante, p. 67. 

2 Gamh. Journ., 1860, pp. 144, 145. 

^ It may be apked why the Red-men should not now have kin- 
ship through males if they have passed, as they appear to have done, 
through the stage of polyandry of the Tibetan type. Our answer 
is, that in some cases they have male kinship, and that probably in 
Australia, and among the majority of the nations of the Bed-men 
the earlier species of kinship has been perpetuated by the system of 
capturing wives. We shall hereafter see that the system of capture 
introduces uncertainty as to male parentage, independently of the 
causes of such uncertainty which we have been considering. We 
shall also see that all polyandrous peoples may not have been 
exogamous, while all exogamous peoples must have been polyandrous. 


are features of the system of relationship which might 
be expected to accompany the higher polyandry. The 
schedules returned to Mr. Morgan show that among 
the Tamul and Telugu, peoples of Southern India, 
numbering about twenty -four millions, " aU the 
brothers of a father are usually called fathers, but 
in strictness, those who are older than the father 
are called great fathers, and those who are younger, 
little fathers." And both the Tamul and Telugu 
are still, as we have seen, to some extent poly- 
androus. The same system of relationship is found 
among the Puharies, a people on the skirts of 
the Tibetan region, and that manifestly practised 
polyandry till a late date. With the Puharies, all 
the brothers of a father are equally fathers to his 

We have seen that the Kasias, the Nairs, and the 
Saporogian Cossacks, have the system of kinship through 
females only. We find that system in Tulava, in the 
neighbourhood of the Nairs. " Among the Buntar " — 
the highest rank of Sudras in Tulava — " a man's chil- 
dren," says Buchanan, " are not his heirs. During his 
lifetime he may give them money ; but aU of which 
he dies possessed goes to his sisters and to their chil- 
dren." The cause must be the same in either case, 
though marriage in Tulava has shifted from polyandry 
to polygyny.'' Among the Eajputs we have traces of 

' Keport of Mr. Wilson, ut supra. 
* Buchanan, ut supra, vol. iii. p. 16. 


the system of female kinship.^ The Kocch have kin- 
ship and succession through females only ; and so have 
the But (Bodo).^ Farther we find that system among 
the Banyai/ in Ashanti, Aquapim, and Congo, and are 
assured that traces of it are to be found all over Africa.* 

We have already had occasion to notice its occurrence 
among the Chinese/ 

Let us now see what evidence there is of the former 
existence of the system of kinship through females only. 
We recall the fact that, in an earlier chapter, we saw 
reason to believe that it anciently prevailed among the 
Celts.' We infer that among the Celts there was an- 
ciently no certainty of male parentage. We now notice 
that we find traces of such a system in India in the 
Sutras of Gautama. In these, marriage with the daughter 
of a maternal uncle — a cousin on the mother's side — is 
emphatically prohibited as being clearly against the prin- 
ciples of the sacred writings. '^ Such a prohibition, found 
with an exogamous race — and almost all the Indian races 
were and are, as we have seen, exogamous — can be referred 
only to the system of kinship through females only. And 
it is impossible to avoid connecting with this the tradition 
that the five Pandava princes — brothers so called — were 
husbands of one wife. " How is it," asks Max Miiller,' 

1 Tod's Annals, <Ssc., ut supra, p. 48. 

2 Bes. Ethn., vol. i. pp. 96, 109. 

^ Livingstone's Travels, pp. 617 — 622. 

* Reade's Savage Africa, p. 43. 

5 Ante, p. 96-7. 6 ^„^g^ p gg^ 

7 Max MiUler's Hist, of Anc. Sans. Liter., 1859, p. 53. 

'* Hist, of Anc. Sans. Liter., 1859, p. 46. 


ia discussing the character of the Mahabharata, " that 
the five Pandava princes who are at first represented 
as receiving so strictly Brahmanic an education, could 
afterwards have been married to one wife ? This is 
in plain opposition to Brahmanic law, where it is 
said, ' they are many wives of one man ; not many 
husbands of one wife.' Such a contradiction can 
only be accounted for by the admission that in this 
case epic tradition in the mouth of the people was too 
strong to allow this essential and curious feature in the 
life of its heroes to be changed." In other words, we 
have here the tradition " that the races among whom the 
five principal heroes of the Mahabharata were born and 
fostered," practised polyandry. This is confirmed by all 
that is related of the Pandava princes. They were the re- 
puted sons of Pandu, — but, in fact, three of them were sons 
of one of his wives by three difi"erent gods, and the other 
two were sons of another wife by the Aswini-Kumaras.'' 
1 Williams's Indian Epic Poetry, 1863, p. 17. It is worthy of 
notice that in a passage of the Mahabharata, book i., vv. 4719-22, 
which has been translated by Dr. Muir {Sanscrit Texts, part ii. 
p. 336), we have the following account of the freedom of women 
in the early world. " Women were formerly unconfined, and roved 
about at their pleasure, independent (within their respective castes). 
Though in their youthful innocence they abandoned their husbands, 
they were guilty of no offence ; for such was the rule in early times. 
This ancient custom is even now the law for creatures born as 
brutes, which are free from lust and anger. This custom is sup- 
ported by authority, and is observed by great Rishis, and it is still 
practised among the Northern Kurus." In a note, Dr. Muir adds 
that the practice of promiscuous intercourse was, according to the 
legend, abolished by Svetaketu, son of the Eishi Uddalaka, who 
was incensed at seeing his mother led away by a strange Brahman. 
Svetaketu established conjugal fidelity. 


Pandu himself was the son of a marriage with a brother's 
widow. When the five princes married one wife, the 
eldest was first married to her by the family priest, and 
then the other four in their order, according to priority 
of birth. The princes are represented as living in family 
with Kauli, their mother — the head of their house. In 
the poem, Bishma, their granduncle — grandfather's 
brother — is often styled their grandfather ; and though 
Bishma was really the uncle — ^father's brother — of Pandu, 
he is sometimes styled his father.^ All these circum- 
stances point to a system of polyandry of the Tibetan 
type. The very terminology is that of polyandry, and 
which polyandry has left behind it among the Tamul, 
the Telugu, the Puharies, and the Eed-men of America. 
In short, though the original tradition has obviously 
been tampered with, enough of it remains to oblige us 
to acknowledge it as a genuine tradition of a stage of 
Aryan civilisation, when the marriage system was poly- 
androus as it is now in Tibet. It is almost needless to 
point out that we have, in this tradition, a confirmation 
of our view of the origin of the obligation which, in the 
code of Menu, is recognised as imposed on brothers in 
turn to marry the widow of a brother deceased. We 
shall find a further confirmation of that view in the case 
of the Hebrews. 

We are not without evidence of the existence in 

early times of the system of female kinship among the 

Semitic races. It would appear that while Abraham 

still lived, his tribesmen as yet recognised only that 

1 See Williams's Indian Ejnc Poetry, 1863, pp. 93, 99, and 114. 


primitive kinship in some important relations in life — 
e.g., as affecting the right of intermarriage. Between 
the times of Abraham and the promulgation of the 
Levitical law, a complete revolution took place in 
Jewish custom. The patriarch himself married his 
sister-german, or by the same father ; and his brother 
Nahor married his niece/ the daughter of a brother. 
So Amram, the father of Moses and Aaron, married his 
father's sister (Exod. vi. 20). These women were not 
relatives, in a full legal sense, of their husbands. They 
were connected with them through males only, and 
through males in those times there was not, as yet, 
a perfect kinship. We have similar evidence of the 
existence of the system of kinship, through females 
only, among the Phoenicians.^ 

Among the Greeks, traces of this early law remained 
in historic times. To pass over the tradition that in 
Greece before Cecrops children always bore the names 
of their mothers,' we have the fact that at Athens a 
brother might marry a sister-german (or by the same 
father only), but not a sister-uterine or consanguineous. 
Here again we have a relic of the doctrine that a chUd 
had no paternal relatives. A sister-uterine was a near 
kinswoman, but a sister-german was no kinswoman at 
all. Montesquieu* ascribes this Athenian rule to a 

* Genesis xi. 26 — 29 ; and see xx. 12. 

* Achilles Tatius, lib, i. 

' Varro, apud Augiist. de Civ. Dei, 1. 18, c. 9. Suidas, voce 
irpoixrjO. t. iii. p. 189 ; and vide Goguet, vol. ii. book i. art. i. 

* Book V. c. 5. 


device of the legislature for regulating successions ; but 
he belongs to the class of philosophers who make more 
of enactments than of popular usages. As Bunsen ^ has 
pointed out, there can be no doubt that the true 
meaning and origin of the rule were what we have 

There is one case which might be cited to throw 
doubt upon some of the conclusions at which we have 
arrived in this chapter. This is the report of Philo, 
that the Spartans allowed a man to marry his sister- 
uterine, but not his sister-german, or by the same 
father.^ This may have been circulated for the sake 
of the contrast which it presented to Athenian custom ; 
at any rate, we hold it to be incredible — as discordant 
with old law as with the habits of the Lacedaemonians. 
It is beyond belief that there was this superior regard 
for the father's blood in ancient Sparta, where the mar- 
riage tie was so loose that men lent their wives to one 
another, and cared little by whom children were be- 
gotten, provided they turned out strong and healthy. It 
is incredible, that in a community where any sort of 
importance was attached to blood, the unquestionable 
blood-tie between children of the same mother should 
be so disregarded. If we are to credit the report at all, 
it must be on the supposition that the Spartans were 

1 De Jwre Hered. Athen., p. 148 ; Gbttingen, 1813. 

2 The reader may suspect that this is a relic of strict agnatic 
law. But for the reasons stated in the text, we hold that view to 
be excluded. The system of relationship through males only has 
never, in any well-authenticated case, been developed into such a 
rule as this. 


exceptional in their development, like the ancient Per- 
sians (from whom the Druses derived their customs). 
And we do not regard the case of the Persians as of 
weight against our reasoning, but the contrary. The 
Persian customs were just those of hordes who con- 
secrated an incestuous promiscuity into a system. If 
they allowed the marriage of brothers and sisters con- 
sanguineous, they also sanctioned the unions of sons 
and mothers, and of fathers and daughters, and in some 
cases required them for the purposes of religion.^ 

At the outset of our argument we saw that if the 
system of kinship through females only could be shown 
to exist, or to have existed, it must be accounted a more 
archaic system of kinship than the system of relationship 
through males, — the product of an earlier and ruder 
stage in human development; and that to prove its 
existence on such a scale as to entitle it to rank among 
the normal phenomena of human development would be 
to prove it the most ancient system of kinship. We 
now submit that we have amply established our pro- 
position. We have collected abundant evidence of the 
non-existence in many places of the conditions necessary 
for the rise of kinship through males ; in many of these 
cases — some of them cases of great populations — we 
have been able to adduce evidence of the existence of 
the system of kinship through females only. We have 
seen that polyandry must be accepted as a stage in the 
progress towards marriage proper and the patriarchal 

' See a full account of the Persian customs in Selden's Jus 
Naturale, ut supra, chap. xi. 


system. The lower forms of polyandry we have found 
to be accompanied by the system of kinship through 
females only. We have seen polyandry change its form 
till it allowed of kinship through males, and then die 
away into an obligation on the younger brothers in turn 
to espouse the widow of the eldest brother; and in some 
cases, Indo-European as weU as Semitic, in which we 
found that relic of polyandry, we have found, or found 
traces of, the system of kinship through females only. 
Had the facts bearing on our inquiry ever been syste- 
matically observed, noted, and collected, it is probable 
our case might be made to appear stronger than it does. 
But as it is, we submit that we have done quite enough 
to establish the truth of our proposition. 

Before leaving this subject we would observe that, 
whether the system of kinship through females only 
prevailed universally at the first or not, it must have 
prevailed wherever exogamy prevailed — exogamy and 
the consequent practice of capturing wives. Certainty 
as to fathers is impossible where mothers are stolen from 
their first lords, and hable to be re-stolen before the 
birth of children. And as exogamy and polyandry are 
referable to one and the same cause — a want of balance 
between the sexes — we are forced to regard aU the ex- 
ogamous races as having originally been polyandrous. 
While polyandry supplied a method whereby the want 
of balance might be the less felt, and may thus have 
retarded, and in some cases prevented, the estab- 
lishment of exogamy, wherever exogamy took root 


polyandry inust have been practised. Therefore we 
must hold it to be beyond dispute that among exoga- 
mous races the first system of kinship was that which 
recognised blood-ties through mothers only. 

We may be pardoned for here adverting to the 
views of ancient kinship advanced by Mr. Maine. 
"We have already pointed out ^ that Mr. Maine seems 
not to have been able to conceive of any social order 
more primitive than the patriarchal. And as he found 
agnation — or kinship exclusively through males — to be 
a common concomitant of the patriarchal system, he 
has committed himself to the opinion that that was 
the only kinship known to primitive times. He argues, 
indeed, against the possibility of kinship through 
females in early times as being inconsistent with 
social order and stability. The learned and ingenious 
writer must be held to have taken up the threads of 
legal history, where they began to unwind themselves, 
anew, after the completion of a social revolution. It is 
quite undoubted, as he says, that few indigenous bodies 
of law belonging to communities of the Indo-European 
stock do not exhibit peculiarities which are referable to 
agnation. With the advance of society — the growth of 
marriage laws — the superiority of the male sex must 
have everywhere tended to establish that system. But, 
before that result could be reached, many stages of 
progress had to be traversed. And while traces of 

^ Ante, p. 62. 


agnation are to be found in the early customs of most 
of tlie Indo-European races, we have seen that the 
indigenous customs of most early communities exhibit 
peculiarities intelligible only on the supposition that 
kinship and succession through females were the rule 
before the rise of agnation. Farther, we have seen that 
wherever non-9,dvancing communities are to be found — 
isolated in islands or maintaining their savage liberties 
in mountain fastnesses — there to this day exists the 
system of kinship through females only. The State of 
old, says Mr. Maine, recognised as its units, not in- 
dividuals, but families. True. But at a yet older 
date we must conclude that neither the State, nor the 
family, properly speaking, existed. And at that earlier 
time the unnamed species of kinship — the counterpart 
and complement of agnation — ^was the chief determinant 
of social phenomena.-^ 

1 [In this passage the author, while maintaining that agnation, 
the system of kinship through males only, was preceded by a system 
of kinship through females only, does not question the prevalence of 
agnation ; and it will appear immediately that, when this work was 
written, he thought agnation in most cases supervened where kin- 
ship through males had come to be acknowledged. It wiU. be found, 
however, on reference to The Patria/rchal Theory (London, 1885), 
that he afterwards saw reason for concluding that, while with male 
kinship there was a tendency to agnation, agnation was actually 
arrived at in exceptional cases only. His theory of the origin of 
agnation will be found in that work. One of the reasons for re- 
garding agnation as an exceptional form of kinship is that, 
excepting in Rome, there is scarcely any example of it anywhere 
to be found — and no example of it to be found among the ancient 


We now go on to show 

II. — That the primitive groups were, or were 
assumed to be, homogeneous. 

It appeared at the outset that individuals must have 
been primarily affiliated not to persons but to groups, 
and that the first efi"ect of the rise of the idea of kinship 
must have been to give birth to the conception of 
stocks : farther, that the establishment over any great 
area of the system of kinship through females only 
must have occupied a considerable period of time. 
Until that system was firmly established, there could 
be no such interference with the homogeneity of the 
groups as to be worth consideration. An amount of 
heterogeneity short of that which would introduce at 
least the germ of a system of betrothals may fairly 
be overlooked. While as yet there was no system of 
kinship, the presence of captive women in a horde, in 
whatever numbers, could not introduce a system of 
betrothals. Heterogeneity as a statical force can only 
have come into play when a system of kinship led 
the hordes to look on the children of their foreign 
women as belonging to the stocks of their mothers ; 
that is, when the sentiments which grew up with the 
system of kinship became so strong as to overmaster 
the old filiation to the group (and its stock) of the 
children born within it. We may depend upon it 
that this was a stage of progress which it took long 
to reach, and thus that it was long before the original 
homogeneity of the groups was substantially impaired. 


Tliat in the stage of progress we are contemplating, 
adoption was practised (the adoption of one group by 
another to which some writers ascribe such great 
effects), is altogether unlikely. If it was, it would 
most probably — as in later times — proceed on the 
fiction that the uniting groups were of the same 
original stock. But looking to the state of hostility 
between groups at the stage we are considering, and 
the degree of advancement implied in the conception 
of adoption, we cannot believe that the groups then 
tended to amalgamate, however they may have tended 
to divide. We conclude that we must regard the 
primitive groups as having been, or having been 
assumed to be, homogeneous up to that stage when, 
through the joint operation of exogamy and the sys- 
tem of kinship through females only, foreigners 
recognised as such began to be systematically born 
within them. 

III. — The system of kinship through females only 
tended to render the exogamous groups heterogeneous, 
and thus to supersede the system of capturing wives. 

We may here be very brief We have already 
seen^ the effects of the joint operation of exogamy 
and this system of kinship among the Australians. 
Indeed, what their effects must have been is exceed- 
ingly obvious. Owing to exogamy, the mothers in 
each horde were foreigners, and, owing to the system 

^ Ante, p. 60. 


of kinship, the children born to them were esteemed 
foreigners also. Thus, so far as the system of infanti- 
cide allowed, the hordes contained young men and 
women accounted of different stocks, who might inter- 
marry consistently with exogamy. Hence grew up a 
system of betrothals, and of marriage by sale and 
purchase. In Australia and America we saw that in 
spite of the law of blood-feud, the heterogeneity is now 
such that the system of betrothals is well established, 
and that of the original stock-groups the names alone 
appear to remain. 

IV. — As civilization advanced, the system ofhinshi'p 
through females only was succeeded by a system which 
acknoivledged kinship through males also ; and which in 
most cases passed into a system which acknowledged 
kinship through males only} 

It is obviously needless to say anything in support 
of the first branch of this proposition. The difficulty 
was to show, as we have done in our first proposition in 
this chapter, that there was a more archaic system 
which did not acknowledge kinship through males. 
With the fact of kinship through males in advanced 
communities, every reader is familiar. Farther as to 
the second branch of the proposition, it is unnecessary 
to adduce evidence, or to do more than give some expla- 
nations. Those who are acquainted with Mr. Maine's 
(in many respects admirable) chapter on primitive 
society and ancient law, wiU see from the terms of our 

^ [See note on p. 126.] 



proposition, that we have not altogether adopted his 
view that agnation at one time or other prevailed 
everywhere in the advancing communities ; but it is 
beyond dispute that its prevalence was most general. 
As it wUl be convenient hereafter to speak of agnation 
as a familiar system, we must here say something of its 
nature. This system, as it long prevailed in Eome, may be 
best explained by using the terminology of Eoman Juris- 
prudence, to which indeed its name belongs. Its general 
description is that it embraced only the ties of blood 
through males. But it will be well to see who were thus 
included in the kindred. Those united by ties of blood 
through descent from the same married pair being called 
cognates, the agnates were those cognates who traced 
their connection exclusively through males. By a fiction, 
adopted persons and their descendants through males 
were within the agnatic bond. All the children of a 
married pair were agnates, as well as all the grandchildren 
through sons, but the grandchildren through daughters 
were not in the number of agnates. The children of the 
same father by diflferent mothers were kindred, but the 
children of the same mother by difi"erent fathers were 
not relations to any legal effect. The sons of brothers 
were kinsmen, but the sons of sisters, or of brother and 
sister, were no relations ; for a woman's children were 
held to be not of the kin of their mother but of their 
father. And in no case was there a tie of kinship 
between a woman's children and her natural relatives 
unless there was an affinity between her and her 
husband. If the one system involved anomalies so 


did also the other. Where female kinship prevails, a 
Eajah's son may become a hodman — taking the state of 
his mother — whUe the son of the Eajah's sister mounts 
the throne. The nephew — a sister's child — is a relation 
of the Rajah, but his son is none at all. No more is 
his brother's son ; for through a male under that system 
there is no blood-tie. 

Under each system, while it prevailed, the eflfects of 
kinship were confined to those who according to it were 
relations. And often it is in the laws of succession 
that we find the best evidence of the former existence 
among a race of either system. The rule preserved in 
the Customs of Normandy, which prohibited uterine 
brothers from succeeding to one another's lands, attests 
the former prevalence there of agnation ; ^ and, in some 
quarters, as in Congo, the descent of the crown from the 
uncle to the sister's son is nearly all that remains to 
witness to the former prevalence of the system of kin- 
ship through females. It will be a curious chapter in 
history which successfully narrates the progress of the 
revolution by which the passage from the earlier to the 
later of these systems was effected; exhibiting the 
stages in the development of the family system, as 

1 [After what has been said as to the prevalence of agnation (Note, 
p. 126) it seems necessary to say that there is an error here. The 
Customs of Normandy did exclude uterine brothers from succeeding 
each other in property derived from their respective fathers ; but 
did not exclude them from succeeding each other in property derived 
from their mother. There was, therefore, the fullest admission of 
the relationship of uterine brothers — and nothing to attest the former 
prevalence of agnation.] 

K 2 


based upon the patria potestas and agnatic kinship as 
deduced therefrom.^ 

Let us see whether we cannot in a few sentences 
suggest some of the steps in that progress. The reader 
must suppose the progress to commence as soon as, 
through the joint operation of exogamy and the system 
of female kinship, the groups have been rendered so far 
heterogeneous as to permit of marriage within the 

Children having been affiliated to mothers instead of 
to groups, the first approach to a famUy system would 
be through a separation of residences — aU of a group 
having no longer a common haunt or dwelling, but at 
first all of the same stock within a group associating as 
a gens or house ; and next, mothers and their children 
occupying separate homes. With this separation of 
residences would come a closer knitting together of the 

1 [The author has here been influenced by the well-known theory 
of Ancient Law, which derives relationships from the patria potestas, 
and holds them, as determined by the patria potestas, to have been 
at first agnatic ; it is implied here that a family system based upon 
patria potestas was common, and that agnatic kinship was deduced 
from patria potestas. Of course, his own theory of the origin of 
relationship, as stated in this work, is entirely different from that. 
And it seems proper to note that he afterwards became convinced 
that agnation was not derived from, nor founded upon, patria 
potestas, and that he formed a new theory of the origin of agna- 
tion {Tlie Patria/rchal Theory, London, 1885, chs. xii. and xiii.). On 
this theory agnation might be expected to occur more rarely than a 
high paternal power such as might grow into patria potestas or 
some similar institution. But, in fact, patria potestas seems not 
to have been found anywhere in the ancient world except in Rome. 
Gaius declared it to be distinctively a Roman institution.] 


kindred first in the gens, and next of mothers and 
children in the family — rude proprietary rights distinct 
from the tribal, distinct from the gentile — in the 
common home, weapons, and garnered food. There 
would be introduced such a species of family system as 
we find among the Nairs — the rudest that can be 
imagined. And from this to the famUy system, peculiar 
to polyandry of the Tibetan type, we have seen the 
stages of development. 

In the Nair stage, kinship would be of importance 
chiefly in two respects — (1),. as determining the right of 
intermarriage ; (2), as determining the right of succes- 
sion. It might be expected that the system of kinship 
through females only would first lose importance in 
regard to successions. 

While the Nair family system lasted, we may assume 
that the common home of the brothers and mother 
would not often be such as to permit (conveniently) of 
a general succession — failing the brothers — of all the 
sisters' children, where there was more than one sister ; 
and that the first advance to a restricted system of suc- 
cession would be through the limitation of the right of 
succession, primo loco, to the children of the eldest 
sister. "We have seen the practice ^ growing of fathers 
making gifts inter vivos, to women's children whom 
they had reason to think their own ; and as this practice 
grew with the number of cases in which there was a 
degree of certainty of male parentage, there would be a 
farther practical restriction of the right of succession 

1 Ante, p. 117. 


through females. And with the practice of gifts inter 
vivos, to putative children, would grow a feeling against 
allowing estates to pass from the house of the brothers 
to that of, or to the putative children of, the polyandrous 
husbands of the sister, and a corresponding disposition 
towards a system of marriage which would allow of the 
property passing to the brother's own children. The 
system which would suggest itself would be the Tibetan 
system — to have a wife in common in the house of their 
mother. This system would produce certainty of the 
children being of their own blood ; they would be born 
in the house, and would become its heirs. 

The next step in advance is obvious. The succession 
of the younger brother to the elder was a feature of the 
earlier law — sisters' sons only succeeded failing their 
uncles. Now, everything conspired to invest the eldest 
brother, when he came into the succession, with some of 
the attributes of a paterfamilias. This he did only on 
the death of all the polyandrous fathers. But — in his 
relation to his younger brothers — in respect of his being 
the first to marry, reaching puberty first, and choosing 
the future wife of himself and brothers — in respect of 
the 'first-born, and frequently more than one of the 
children of his marriage, being unquestionably his ofi"- 
spring — it was natural that the fiction should be formed 
that his were all the children. Women had already, 
and in the recourse to Tibetan polyandry, been deposed 
from the sovereignty and management of families ; and 
now, with additional guarantees for the wife's fidelity, 
parentage was either become certain, or feigned to be 


80 ; the elder brother was a sort of paterfamilias, the 
right to succeed him being in his younger brothers in 
their order ; after them, in their eldest son. Thus, the 
idea of fatherhood — formed under the system of Nair 
polyandry — attained something like maturity under the 
Tibetan, and took its place in customary law. And so 
far as it was a step towards, or accompanied by, kinship 
through males, it was a step away from kinship through 
females, and especially as regards rights of succession. 

Apart from such certainty of fatherhood as was 
incidental to the marriage of eldest sons, the earliest 
examples of such married life as would give certainty of 
male parentage would probably be furnished by the 
chiefs of tribes, who might have the power to secure to 
themselves one, or perhaps several wives. In Kandya, 
Ceylon, where polyandry is universal among the lower 
and middle classes, the chiefs are strictly monogamists, 
apparently regarding polyandry as a low practice, un- 
worthy of men in their position. As settled habits 
arose, as property accumulated, and the sexes became 
more evenly balanced, the example of the chiefs would 
find more and more imitators, and their cases would 
furnish a model for an improved system of succession. 
Thus would arise a practice of monogamy or of poly- 
gyny. Brothers would not now always be co-husbands ; 
the Tibetan form of polyandry would die out, and the 
marriage of a brother to his elder brother's widow would 
become first an act of succession necessary for the 
assumption of the brother's place as head of the family ; 
next, as the succession of sons was introduced as in 


right prior to the brother of a father — chiefly through 
the brothers leaving the house and contracting separate 
marriages —it would become an obligation founded on 
usage, and which, being unproductive of material 
advantages, would not unfrequently, from men's other 
marriages, be found irksome and inconvenient. Finally, 
the obligation itself would die out under the influence 
of ideas of propriety, which grew up with the improved 
marriage system. In the Institutes of Menu the obU- 
gation is seen in a state of decadence under the influence 
of such ideas. ^ 

Paternity having become certain, a system of kinship 
through males would arise with the growth of property, 
and a practice of sons succeeding, as heirs direct, to the 
estates of fathers ; and as the system of kinship through 
males arose, that through females would — and chiefly 
under the influence of property — die away. The cases 
of Abraham and Nahor, however, show that it would be 
long before that system ceased to be influential as re- 
gards intermarriages ; that it might, as regards them, 
linger to some eff'ect even after men had reached the 
patriarchal state. From the patriarchal state, with such 
a customary law as prevailed in Abraham's time, to the 
system of agnation as it prevailed in Eome, is stiU a 
long progress. Every step in it, we may be sure, was 
affected by considerations derived from property. While 
wives were captured, if there was any sense of property 
at all, wives would be regarded as property. When at 
a later stage they came to pass from the houses of their 
1 [See note ■'', p. 109.] 


birtli into alien houses — by purchase — they would still 

be property. And with the wives considered as property, 

it is easy to conceive how there would have arisen a 

sense of property in children. Hence, additional 

features of the patria potestas. And when a woman 

had been sold to her husband by her father, and had 

thus come to be considered the husband's property, it is 

easy to see how neither her original family, nor that 

into which she had married, should be able to inherit 

any property through her. But the right of inheritance, 

as property became abundant, tended to become, and 

did become, the test of kinship. And in course of 

time, the notion of kinship derived through females 

would disappear among a people who cared nothing for 

a kinship barren as regarded patrimonial advantages. 

The result would be the system of agnation.^ 

It is not necessary for us here to do more than 

repeat that we have, in numerous cases, found agnation, 

or at least kinship through males, preceded by the 

system of kinship through females only. It was so in 

the cases of the Hebrews, Hiadus, Celts, and Greeks ; 

it was presumably so in all those cases in which we find 

kinship through males accompanied by that relic of 

polyandry — the obligation laid on younger brothers in 

turn to marry the widow of the elder brother deceased. 

And since we have shown special cause for believing 

that all the exogamous races had originally the system 

^ [For the theory of the origin of agnation subsequently formed 
by the author, see The Patriarchal Theory, ch. xiii., London, 1885. 
As already stated (note, p. 126), it is maintained in that work that 
agnation was an exceptional form of kinship.] 


of kinsMp througli females only, we are entitled to 
assume that it was so among those exogamous peoples 
with which, as with the Khonds, the Circassians, and 
the Kalmucks, we find relationship to be agnatic/ 

V. — The system of kinship through males tended to 
rear up homogeneous groups, and thus to restore the 
original condition of affairs amfiong exogamous races, 
as regards both the practice of capturing wives and 
the evolution of the form of capture. 

The first eff"ect of kinship through males must have 
been to arrest the progress of heterogeneity. The 
introduction of foreign women into a tribe no longer 
brought into it children accounted foreigners ; for either 
the chUdren were no longer of the mother's stock, but 
of the father's, or if of the mother's, they were yet of 
the father's also. Where, then, in a tribe, a balance of 
persons of different stocks had not been reached, it was 
Kenceforth unattainable. Farther, with kinship through 
males would arise the habit of feigning a common 
descent from some distinguished man — a fiction which 
would lead in many cases to the denial or neglect of 

^ [The word agnatic has here (and occasionally in subsequent 
passages) been used incautiously — owing to the author having at 
the time the impression that agnation commonly supervened upon 
the acknowledgment of kinship through males. But the Khonds 
may really have had agnatic relationship. Succession to land and 
agricultural stock was among them strictly limited to males and the 
sons of males — the village succeeding to land on the failure of heirs 
male. The father's position was high ; but it is clear that they had 
not patria potestas. See Macpherson, Memorials of Service in India, 
p. 62, 1865.] 


such heterogeneity as existed. Of the new groups that 
were formed, the homogeneity was perfectly secured. 
The family now tended to grow into the tribe of kins- 
folk. The children born to a polygynous husband were 
all kinsfolk, of whatever stocks their mothers were. 
The children of brothers, though they married women 
of different stocks, were kinsfolk. And however the 
family increased by the addition of generations, its 
members were all within the kindred. And that as 
well where the exogamous prejudice survived as where 
it perished. Where it survived, the women of a family 
could find no mates within its bounds, and marrying 
into other groups would follow, and their children with 
them, the kindred of their husbands. They would be 
out of the group. Thus, within such exogamous groups 
as were remodelled, and within such new exogamous 
groups as were formed, under this species of kinship; 
there could be no marriage within the group. There 
would be no place for a system of betrothals ; and 
except where friendly relations subsisted between the 
groups to allow of marriage by purchase, their members 
would once more be able to get wives only by capturing 
them. Thus, even if, in the first stage, the system of 
capture had — as we see in Australia that it partially has 
— been superseded, the exogamous races, in entering on 
a new phase of advancement, had reserved for them a 
farther experience of that system, to confirm or re- 
establish the old association between marriage and the 
act of rapine. And we cannot doubt that many exoga- 
mous peoples have had this twofold experience. We 


know of several exogamous races wliicli, after having 
had kinship through females, had kinship through males ; 
and we cannot doubt that the same was the case with 
the other exogamous races that have had the form of 
capture and agnatic relationship. And indeed, as in the 
later stage, the experience must have been more uniform 
and continuous, there being nothing, in the absence of 
friendliness between the groups, to interfere with the 
system of capture, so it is observable that the form, of 
capture is now most distinctly marked and impressive 
just among those races which have male kinship. It 
might be doubted, but for the case of the Fuegians and 
traces of the symbol, as if of a thing decayed, occurring 
in Am.erica, whether the experience of the earlier stage 
could generate the form. There is no doubt it can, and 
has frequently done so ; but the question whether it 
could have done so, might, on mere general reasoning 
have been decided in the negative. 

VI. — Under the combined infiuence of exogamy and 
the system of female kinship, a local tribe might attain a 
balance of persons regarded as being of different descent, 
and its members might thus be able to intermarry with 
one another, and wholly within the tribe, in consistency 
with the principle of exogamy. 

This sufficiently appears from what has preceded; 
and it farther appears from what has preceded, that such 
a balance of the sexes as would render a group indepen- 
dent of other groups in the matter of marriage would 


more speedily be reached in respect of the practice of 

VII. — A local tribe haviny reached the stage contem- 
plated in the last proposition, and having grown proud 
through successes in ivar, might become a caste. 

It is obvious that the feeling of superiority to other 
tribes, concurring with independence of them as re- 
gards marriage, might lead a tribe first to avoid, and 
then to decline and prohibit, intermarriage with the 
tribes which it esteemed inferior. And a tribe with a 
marriage-law restricted by such a prohibition is a caste, 
or has made an approach towards being a caste. That 
castes have, in fact, been produced in this way, is ren- 
dered certain by the fact already referred to — that nearly 
all the Indian castes, from the highest to the lowest, 
are divided into gotrams or families, and that marriage 
is prohibited between persons of the same gotram, who, 
according to the rule of Menu, are shown by their 
common name to be of the same original stock. We 
hold that this at once shows the caste to have been com- 
posed of members of different original stocks, and the 
stocks themselves to have been originally exogamous. 
There can, we think, be little doubt that aU castes of 
this description were formed by the processes which we 
have been explaining. The Kamilaroi among the Aus- 
tralians appear to be such a caste.^ And were the 
natives of Australia to be left to themselves, their system 

1 [See note on p. 63.1 


of kinship remaining what it is, we might expect here 
after to find among them numerous caste tribes of this 

It is a rider on what has preceded that caste may- 
appear at that stage of a people's progress while they 
are yet polyandrous. And of caste among people at 
that stage we hava several instances. 

VIII. — On kinship becoming agnatic, the members 
of a caste, formed as above explained, might — yielding 
to a common tendency of rude races— feign themselves 
to be all descended from a common ancestor, and thus 
become endogamous. 

On the appearance of kinship through males, much 
confusion must for a time have prevailed in the applica- 
tion of the principle of exogamy. Some marriages that 
were formerly allowable would become illegal : as, for 
instance, the marriage of brother and sister-german, or 
of the children of brothers ; on the other hand, some 
marriages that were before illegal would become allow- 
able, as for instance the marriages of sisters' children. 

1 It is worth mentioning that many of the rude caste tribes in 
the hills of India, — such as the Kocch, — have the blood-tie through 
mothers only. "Whether marriage is subject to any, or what, re- 
strictions within these caste tribes, we have no information. The 
reader will understand that, in speaking of castes, we distinguish 
between castes proper — the divisions of a people as determined by 
the right of intermarriage — and the classical subdivisions of castes 
proper, which are often met with, and which are also frequently 
called castes. We believe with Dr. Roth that the division into 
classes resulted from the growth and establishment of professions, 
and was of later date than the division into castes proper. 


At least the marriages last mentioned would be consistent 
with exogamy where relationship became agnatic. And 
as the old rules thus became inapplicable new rules 
would be formed, which in some cases might ignore the 
principle upon which the old proceeded. At any rate it 
is manifest that, while the application of the principle 
in the new circumstances was in dubio, the fiction of a 
common descent from an illustrious ancestor, should it 
be put forward, would come in aid of the confusion to 
destroy or render obsolete the principle of exogamy. 
The members of the caste already restricted to marriages 
among themselves, and now feigning themselves all to 
be kindred, would become endogamous. 

Indeed, aU that is necessary for the production of an 
endogamous tribe is, that a caste tribe composed of mem- 
bers of different stocks should, anyhow, at any time, 
yield to the tendency to eponomy. We see, however, 
that in the stage of transition from the system of female 
kinship to agnation, or to a system of male kinship, 
there must have been a time highly favourable for the 
introduction of the fiction of a common descent, and of 
the destruction thereby of exogamy. Of the tendency 
of rude races to employ that fiction, it is unnecessary 
that we should say anything ; it is familiar to aU students 
of early history. Nothing is more common than to find 
the belief in a common descent among peoples obviously 
heterogeneous ; sometimes the belief is found even in 
communities which are not only heterogeneous, but the 
composition of which is known to be entirely artificial.^ 
1 Ancient Law, p. 263, 1861. 


And if we anywhere find the form of capture among 
an endogamous race, as we do among the Bedouin 
Arabs, and appear to do among the Hebrews, it is not, 
we think, too much to say that the presence of the form 
is confirmatory of the supposition that the race became 
endogamous through employing this fiction, and by the 
processes which we have been explaining. At least this 
is the only explanation which we can ofier of the ap- 
pearance among an endogamous people of the form of 

We have now gone over the ground laid out at the 
close of the last chapter. It will be seen that some of 
the propositions mutually support one another. For 
example, the observed heterogeneity of certain castes 
which are subject to the rule of exogamy, goes to show 
that their ancestors must have had the system of kinship 
through females only ; for exogamy, by itself, will not 
explain the welding together, in a group, of persons of 
different original stocks. And to those who, from the 
earlier chapters, have formed the opinion that we are 

^ As to the unity of physical characteristics observed in most 
castes, we notice that even in the stage when exogamy is yet ob- 
served, they were, owing to their intermarriages and the close 
connections permitted by a system of kinship which ignored half of 
the natural blood-ties, steadily advancing to one type, as consan- 
guinii. Where the caste became properly endogamous the 
circumstances were only just more favourable to the production 
of that type. There is nothing in the observed unity discordant 
with the assumption of original heterogeneity ; nothing, especially 
when we consider the periods of time at our disposal, to allow for 
the production of a uniform type among a people strictly limited to 
marriages among themselves. 


right in our theory of the origin of the form of capture 
the appearance of the form among an endogamous race 
will strengthen the supposition that many endogamous 
races, which have not — or which we do not know to 
have — the form, may originally have been exogamous. 

We may fitly close this chapter with some surmises 
— thrown out for what they are worth — as to some of 
the effects on early society of the law of blood-feud, 
which exists everywhere, so far as we know, among rude 
races, and which of course grew up with, and out of, kin- 
ship. So far as the law of blood-feud retarded the 
production of heterogeneity within the groups in any 
district, it was unfriendly to progress. From another 
point of view it appears that it must have favoured pro- 
gress, especially among exogamous races, at that stage 
when kinship was through females only. It bound all 
the kindred to avenge the death of any one, and the 
obligation was a point of religion. At first, probably, 
the protection to the person which this law afforded may 
have extended only to adults, but in time it came to be 
extended even to infants. This extension indeed was a 
logical necessity. And when infants came within the 
benefit of the law, their lives must often have been 
spared to avoid the blood-feud with their mother's 
kindred — a body of protectors, as we have seen, usually 
living outside and foreign to the gens or house of birth. 
Thus the law of blood-feud must be credited with a 
mitigation, perhaps in some cases with the suppression, 
of infanticide, male as well as female, in exogamous 
societies, at that stage when kinship is through mothers 



only. And by checking this practice it tended to restore 
the balance of the sexes, to allow of the rise of polygyny 
and the decay of polyandry. It is a curious fact that 
nowhere now, that we are aware of, is infanticide a 
system where exogamy and the earliest form of kinship 

When, however, with agnation, groups became 
homogeneous, containing none but kindred, and con- 
taining in fact aU the kindred, this beneficial action of 
the blood-feud must have ceased. Where necessity or 
convenience prompted to infanticide among agnatic 
groups, the law of blood-feud opposed no impediment 
to the practice. If the children perished it was at the 
hands of their kindred. Accordingly the most impres- 
sive systems of infanticide — chiefly systems of female 
infanticide — now existing, occur among exogamous 
races which have male kinship. 

On the one hand, then, the law of blood - feud 
would seem to havei played an important part in 
introducing monogamy, polygyny, and the patriarchal 
system ; on the other hand, it would seem at a later 
stage to have favoured the perpetuation of exogamy, 
and of systems of infanticide, 

1 [Since this reasoning, as to the tendency of the blood-feud with 
female kinship, as time went on, to put a check upon infanticide was 
first published (1865), two proofs of its soundness have appeared — 
one from New Zealand, the other from Australia. See Old New 
Zealand, London, 1876, p. 85 ; and th.e Journal of the Anthropological 
Institute, Feb. 1878, p. 250.] 



It will complete the view of early society, to which 
we have been led by our investigation of the origin of 
the form of capture, if we point out the principal causes ' 
of the breakdown of exogamy in advancing communi- 
ties. We have seen the liability of the principle to 
decay in the confusion incident to the growth of the 
system of kinship through males ; and have found 
reason to think that it gave place to endogamy in 
many tribes which had, previous to the revolution in 
kinship, nearly attained a balance — sufficient for the 
purposes of marriage — of persons accounted of different 
stocks. It remains, then, that we should consider the 
causes of the neglect of the principle where it perished 
gradually, and without the people becoming endo- 

To indicate the causes in any case wiU be sufficient 
for our purpose. We select the cases of Greece and 
Eome as being those which, to the generality of readers, 
are most familiar. That the Greeks and the Eomans 
were originally exogamous may be inferred from three 

L 2 


distinct grounds, separately, and in combination. (1), 
They present ns witli the form of capture in marriage 
ceremonies. (2), Many of their mjrthic traditions are 
incapable of a rational explanation, except on the hypo- 
thesis that they anciently had the system of capturing 
women for wives. (3), The composition and organiza- 
tion of their tribes and commonwealths cannot well be 
explained, except on the hypothesis that they resulted 
from the joint operation, in early times, of exogamy and 
the system of kinship through females only. The two 
first grounds we have already noticed ; on the third we 
must now dwell somewhat. It not only affords new 
evidence of the prevalence of exogamy, but intro- 
duces us to the chief causes of its decay in advancing 

The old theory of the composition of States was 
based upon the tendency of families to multiply round 
a central family, whose head represented the original 
progenitor of them all. The family, under the govern- 
ment of a father, was assumed to be the primary group 
— the elementary social unit ; in it were found at once 
the germs of the State, and of sovereign authority. 
Many circumstances recommended this theory, and none 
more than its apparent simplicity. It was easy to find 
abundant analogies for the prolongation of the family 
into the State. A family tends to multiply families 
around it, till it becomes the centre of a tribe, just as 
the banyan tends to surround itself with a forest of its 
own offshoots. And it is obvious to follow up this 
figure, by remarking that the feelings of kindred, which 


hold families together in tribes, tend to bind together, 
in nations, tribes which, like the Greek races, trace back 
their descent to kinsmen. 

The origin of the State on this view is so simple, 
that a child may comprehend it. But it is very easUy 
shown that the theory cannot be supported. In the 
first place, it is not borne out by history. The tribes 
are numerous whose members claim to be descended 
from a common progenitor. Inquiry, however, every- 
where discloses the fact, that the common progenitor is 
a fiction — a hero or god, called into being to explain the 
tribe — from whom the tribe did not derive its being. 
In many cases, not only the fact that the genealogy is 
fictitious, but even the time when it was invented, can 
be shown ; ■^ and nowhere can tribes or nations be traced 
back to individuals. Also, the theory turns on a funda- 
mental error as to the primitive state. It postulates 
that human history opens with perfect marriage, 
conjugal fidelity, and certainty of male parentage ; 
that, from the first, aU the necessary conditions of the 
rise of a perfect family system were satisfied. Demon- 
strably, history did not so begin ; and hence, de- 
monstrably, the family — the social unit of the theory 
— is not the primary unit it is assumed to be. Farther, 
and apart from these objections, the theory is wanting 
in this essential quality of a good theory, viz., that it 
should explain, or be capable of being made to appear 
to explain, the facts. The more acute thinkers who 

1 This can be done in regard to the Greek races which traced 
their descent to the sons of Hellen. 


have adopted it, and who at the same time have re- 
jected, as they felt constrained to do, the principle of 
contiguity, as a principle on which groups in early times 
united,^ have discerned serious difficulties in the way of 
entertaining the theory. Mr. Maine especially seems to 
have been impressed with these difficulties, and to have 
been unable to find any proper solution of them. 

" In most of the Greek States, and in Eome," says 
Mr. Maiue,^ " there long remained vestiges of, an 
ascending series of groups, out of which the State was at 
first constituted. The family, house, and tribe of the 
Eomans, may be taken as the type of them ; and they 
are so described to us, that we can scarcely help con- 
ceiving them as a system of concentric circles, which 
have gradually expanded from the same point. The 
elementary group is the family connected by common 
subjection to the highest male ascendant. The aggrega- 
tion of families [which elsewhere^ he calls the fictitious 
extension of the family] forms the gens or house. The 
aggregation of houses makes the tribe. The aggregation 
of tribes forms the commonwealth." 

Obviously, this is not an explanation of the growth 
of the commonwealth. It does not show how, con- 
sistently with the assumption of the family as the 
elementary unit, the various aggregations spoken of 

^ Aristotle kept clear of many of the difficulties which surround 
the theory of the derivation of the State from the family, by making 
the combination of families of different stocks depend on contiguity 
of residence, and on convenience. 

2 Ancient Law, p. 128. 8 /j^_ p_ 200, 


were effected. The gens, clan, or house, which occurs 
in early tribes wherever we look, was in India, Greece, 
and Kome, as elsewhere, composed of all the persons in 
the tribe (included in families, of course), bearing the 
same name, and accounted of the same stock. Were the 
gentes reaUy of different stocks, as their names would 
imply, and as the people beUeved ? If so, how came 
clans of different stocks to be united in the same tribe ? 
The production of a tribe of one stock — of a homo- 
geneous agnatic group — is readUy conceivable on the 
family hypothesis. But how came a variety of such 
groups — of different stocks — to coalesce in a local tribe ? 
On the other hand, how came a tribe of descent to be 
divided into clans situated in different local tribes ; how 
came such a tribe to be at all divided into clans or 
houses ? 

To these questions no proper answer has, so far 
as we know, been given. The common supposition is, 
that the heterogeneity of the local tribes was somehow 
brought about by the fiction of adoption. It is supposed 
that the agnatic groups must have united through this 
fiction, the one adopting the other on the pretence of 
kinship ; although, after their union, they preserved their 
distinctive names. Mr. Maine does not expressly say 
that the observed combination of heterogeneous elements 
in tribes, and hence in the commonwealth — often as- 
sumed to be composed wholly of kindred — was due to 
the employment of the fiction of adoption ; but he leaves 
that conclusion to be drawn by his readers. " If," he 
says, " adoption had never existed, I do not see how any 


one of the primitive groups [i.e. the agnatic brotlier- 
hoods, for he contemplates none other], whatever were 
their nature, could have absorbed one another; or, on 
what terms any two of them could have combined, except 
those of absolute superiority on the one side, and 
absolute subjection on the other." Here the difficulty is 
distinctly perceived ; but, is it overcome ? What is the 
evidence that the fiction of adoption was ever employed 
on so grand a scale as we must suppose to explain 
the heterogeneity of such groups as the tribes of Eome, 
Greece, or India ? We say that there is none. It is a 
case of error, induced by the maxim " causa sequat 
efiectum." As the fiction of adoption was the only 
cause conceived of that might have produced the 
observed phenomena, it has been assumed to have been 
employed on the scale required by its supposed effects. 
But, we repeat, there is no evidence that it was so 
employed. And there is no likelihood that it was so 
employed. Our belief is, that adoption has been much 
more extensively employed by philosophers to explain, 
than it was by rude races to produce, heterogeneity. 
It is of no consequence how families and gentes were 
adulterated by the practice of adoption. The difficulty 
to be got over does not lie so much in any want of 
purity of the so-caUed stocks, as in the union of different 
stocks — admittedly different — ^in the same tribe. 

The phenomena we have been contemplating offer no 
difficulty when regarded from the point of view to which 
we have been led by our investigation. To satisfy the 
reader of this, we must to some extent recapitulate. 


We started in the last chapter from the conception of 

populations, the units of which were homogeneous groups 

or tribes, which, on the introduction of kinship, became 

the stock groups of each particular district or country, 

and gave their names to the variety of stocks 

subsequently known to the district or country. 

And we saw how, into the groups, and into their 

sections, if they divided, exogamy conjointly with the 

system of kinship through females only, while it 

endured, systematically imported strangers, and thus 

in time rendered the groups heterogeneous, and the 

general population to the same extent ' homogeneous. 

We saw how thus every local tribe came to consist of 

persons of different stocks ; also how aU of the same 

stock, in each, were bound together by rights and 

obligations springing out of kinship ; and how they were 

also united — though to less practical effect — to aU others 

of the same stock in whatever local tribes residing. 

Farther, we saw that, when kinship became agnatic, the 

character of the local tribes became stereotyped, the 

causes of heterogeneity ceasing to operate. 

In each local tribe all the men of the same stock 
and name were bound by kinship to common action, in 
certain cases, against the men of other stocks, both in 
the tribe and elsewhere. Here we have the gentes in 
the local tribe. And gentes of the same stock and 
name would exist in different neighbouring local tribes. 
We shall learn from this how the causes which led to 

1 That is, to the same recognized extent, but really to a much 
greater, half the blood-ties being overlooked. 


the diffusion of the stocks throughout the population, 
favoured the union of the population in the common- 
wealth. Most probably contiguous tribes would be 
composed of precisely the same stocks — would contain 
gentes of precisely the same names, and thus be in the 
strictest sense akin — kindred. There is no difl&culty in 
conceiving equal unions taking place between such tribes 
under the influence of kinship, similarity of elements 
and structure, contiguity and convenience. And on the 
union of several local tribes under a common govern- 
ment, the gentes of each stock in the combination would 
be recognized as forming together a tribe of descent, as 
in reality they would do. Thus, the tribes of descent 
in the commonwealth would each embrace several gentes 
which had taken shape, and acquired special rights and 
property in the local tribes in which they respectively 
were, before the union in the State. As the gens (or 
the germ thereof) would arise under the influence of 
female kinship, it would precede — probably long precede 
— agnatic kinship and the family system as they existed 
in Eome. And we have abeady seen something of the 
processes by which the gentes would be resolved into 
rude family groups, and the family system gradually 
advanced into the patriarchal, till the gentes would be 
resolved into a series of families of the Eoman type.^ 
The order of social development, in our view, is then, 
1 [It may be well to give a reminder here that the author was 
afterwards led to regard the family of the Eoman type — the father's 
power patria potestas, and the system of kinship agnation — as not 
normal but as altogether exceptional. That form of the family seems 
to be discoverable nowhere except in Eome.] 


that the tribe stands first ; the gens or house next ; and 
last of all, the family. We are satisfied that the more 
the reader studies the phenomena of early tribal com- 
position — the phratries and such-like unions of persons 
in different tribes — the more he will be convinced that 
this was the order of the genesis of tribes, gentes, and 
families ; and that in no other way can the phenomena 
of the composition of early states be satisfactorily 

Assuming that we have given the true account of 
the origin of clans of different names and stocks in local 
tribes, and of the appearance of distinct houses of the 
same name in tribes of descent, in ancient common- 
wealths, we might greatly extend the area of exogamy. 
But to do so is not our present purpose, ^^e observe 
that the breakdown of exogamy in advancing com- 
munities must have been most intimately connected 
with this evolution of clans and families, and of clan 
and family estates within the tribe. As we have already 

1 We rcommend to the reader a perusal of the Translators' 
Preface to the Oxford translation (1830) of C. 0. Miiller's History 
and Antiquities qf the Doric Race, — the translators being Henry 
Tufnell and Sir George Oornewall Lewis. If the reader keeps in 
view that we have good evidence of the existence at one time of the 
system of kinship through females only among the Dorians, we 
believe he will not be able to peruse the passage of Dicsearchus 
translated in that preface, and the Editors' comments thereon, 
without being strongly impressed that our views are the only views 
on which the phenomena of early Doric communities can be made 
intelligible. And if he farther study chap, x., part ii., of Mr. 
Grote's History of Greece, we believe his impression of the correctness 
of our views will be deepened. 


had occasion to point out, the only species of property- 
known anywhere originally appears to have been pro- 
perty in common. Everywhere it would appear that 
the groups were at the first the only owners. And the 
history of the right of property, as we have it, is just 
that of the growth inside groups of proprietary rights 
distinct from the tribal. It was an advance when clan 
estates were recognized as distinct from the tribal ; it 
was a farther advance when family estates were re- 
cognized as distinct from those of the clan. Barbarism 
was already far in the rear when individual property 
made its appearance. ^ 

Now, when the authentic history of Eome begins, 
marriage laws had not only become stringent, but 
modern in character, conjugal fidelity had become 
common, and, as the consequence, relationship had be- 
come agnatic. The tribal system, moreover, had been 
stripped of several of its leading features. Property 
had long been localized in families as distinct from 
gentes ; and this localization had cut the families off 
from one another, and to a large extent from the gentes. 
Families were stUl associated in gentes, the gentes in 
tribes, for political purposes ; and there remained to the 
gentiles the right and spes successionis to family estates, 
failing legitimate heirs. But already the laws of suc- 
cession which had sprung up with family property — 
which were springing up with individual property — 
were training the people to consider a few persons only 
as their kinsmen in any special sense. And the course 
of decadence of the recognition of extended kinships in 


Greece followed much the same path. However strongly 
implanted the principle of exogamy may have originally 
been, it must have succumbed to the influences which 
thus disintegrated the old bonds of kinship. So com- 
plete was the disintegration, that in Eome, while the 
right of succession still remained in the gentiles as 
evidence of kinship, and its rights and obligations, 
having been originally co-extensive with the gens, we 
find this so far lost sight of in the nebulosities of legal 
terminology, that the lawyers declared that all con- 
sanguinity ended with their names for its seven degrees 
— names invented with a view to the regulation of suc- 
cessions ; ended there, " quia ulterius per rerum naturam 
nee nomina inveniri nee vita succedentibus prorogari 
potest." ' A maxim, by the way, which proved very 
convenient to those pontiff's who maintained that the 
Levitical rule prohibited marriage between all blood 
relations, and which is probably found very convenient 
now in Russia, where the Greek Church stiU asserts that 
view of the Levitical rule. For the rest, it must be 
enough to say that exogamy died out with the blood-ties 
on which its existence depended, and that the process of 
destruction of those ties which the laws of succession 
inaugurated, was carried on and completed by the law 
of Testaments. If to this general view anything 
should be added, perhaps it is that the earliest viola- 
tions of the rule of exogamy would appear to have been 
called for in the case of female heiresses. Such ladies, 
if they made proper marriages according to old law — 

^ Paulus, Senten, Rece2Jt., lib. iv. 


at that stage of progress when a wife was usually what 
they call in Ceylon a deega wife, i.e. passed from her 
own family into the family and village of her husband 
— must have carried their estates into other tribes or 
gentes, and so have cut off their own gentiles from the 
prospect of succeeding them. Numbers xxxvi. contains 
an account of the origin among the Israelites of the 
rule prohibiting a female heiress from marrying out of 
the tribe of the family of her father. And the pro- 
hibition is not uncommon. 



Here our argument ends. Apparently simple as was 
the problem to be solved, it bas now received a solution 
for tbe first time. That solution opens a new series of 
problems for the consideration of the philosopher ; of 
some of which, indeed, we have offered solutions, which, 
in the fervour of the first conception, may have been 
put forward in too sanguine a spirit. It will be some- 
thing, however, if, in proposing and trying to solve such 
problems, we have at least succeeded in showing their 
importance, by displaying them on the level of the 
foundations of civil society. The chief of these ques- 
tions respect the origin of exogamy and of endogamy. 
As to the origin of the former, it will be remarked that 
we have not spent time on the consideration of the 
question, whether it may not have been due to a natural 
feeling against the union of near kinsfolk. Its general 
description might dispose one to think that it might 
have been due to such a feeling. But, owing to the 
nature of ancient kinship, as we have seen it, exogamy 
afforded no proper security against the intermixture of 


persons near of kin. It permitted, in reality, many 
marriages whicli we now disallow. Ties of blood that 
were not recognized — though that they were ties of 
blood must have been vaguely perceived — were prac- 
tically non-existent. And, in the first stages of human 
development, it was agreeable to exogamy that brothers 
and sisters of the half-blood should marry, whUe uncles 
might marry nieces, and nephews aunts. Afterwards, 
unions equally incestuous, as we should say, were allow- 
able in consequence of the limitation in blood-ties 
derived from agnation. One thing is very clear, that 
in ancient times such questions as have been raised by 
modern science, as to the propriety of the marriages of 
near relatives, were never considered. On the whole, 
the account which we have given of the origin of 
exogamy appears the only one which wiU bear exami- 
nation. The scarcity of women within the group led 
to a practice of stealing the women of other groups, and 
in time it came to be considered improper, because it 
was unusual, for a man to marry a woman of his own 
group. Another important question respects the uni- 
versality of kinship through females only. The strong 
a priori presumptions in favour of that, as the most 
archaic system of kinship, backed by so much evidence 
as we have been able to adduce, seem to us satisfactorily 
to establish the position which we have taken up. On 
the other hand, much labour and investigation will yet 
be needed to show clearly that that kinship was not 
merely a concomitant of exogamy and polyandry, 
should cases occur in which it must be held that 


neither polyandry nor exogamy was primitive cus- 
tom. Assuming the universality of that kinship, 
the question remains : What were the stages of de- 
velopment of the family system, founded on the 
principle of agnation, as at Eome ? Some of those 
questions we have grappled with ; at others we have 
done little more than glance. Are we too sanguine 
if we venture to predict that their solution wOl yet 
be reached, and will exhibit early human history in a 
very different light from that in which it has hitherto 
been regarded, by what Dugald Stewart calls " that 
indolent philosophy which refers to a miracle whatever 
appearance both in the natural and moral worlds it is. 
unable to explain " ? 



M 2 




[Nearly all the examples of the form of capture here 
collected, and, indeed, all the clearest and best of them, have 
been taken from works published before this symbol had been 
made the subject of serious speculation. In general they were 
noted by the writers who observed them simply because of 
their singularity, without knowledge of the frequency of similar 
customs in connection with marriage ; and, one or two excepted, 
without any attempt to account for the appearance at the 
initiation of marriage of a pretence of violence and capture. 
Being described to us as curiosities of custom merely, they can 
readily be taken as trustworthy. No doubt the description is 
often briefer and more imperfect than it would have been had 
the writer known that what he was describing could help to 
throw light upon the condition of early men. 

Probably all the best-known examples of the form have 
been brought together in this Appendix ; and it may suffice to 
show that, in one shape or another, this symbol has been very 
widely spread. But there has been no attempt to make a full 
collection of examples, though that, no doubt, would be of 
much value. 

In relation to the significance of this symbol — in case this 
should be taken to be still matter of controversy — it may be 
pointed out that those cases of the form of capture in which 
there was a pretence of conflict between the bride's relatives 
and the bridegroom's, whether in the shape of a sham battle or 
of a siege of the bride's house, are cases in which the modest 
shrinking from marriage, which has been attributed to early 
women, can have had nothing to do with what took place, and 
which, moreover, disclose very clearly the real origin of the 


symbol. For the bride was passive, or nearly so, in those cases ; 
nothing, or at any rate very little, was expected from her; it 
was assumed that she could not defend herself, and that she 
ought to be defended. Her relatives went through the form 
of resisting her being carried away; and the result of the 
pretence of conflict was that she was taken from them as if by- 
superior force, and borne off like a captive by the bridegroom 
and his friends. Such cases show us peoples among whom 
(while what was done had meaning for them) a woman's 
relatives, after they had agreed to part with her to a hus- 
band, did not deliver her up to him, but made believe that 
she was taken from them in fight by an enemy. And they 
disclose nothing beyond the semblance of a fight in which 
the forcible carrying away of the woman by strangers was 
vainly resisted by her kindred. It will be found, with actual 
capture and the form appearing side by side, that the effect of 
a friendly arrangement, where there is one, is to make capture 
easy — the woman's friends do not give her up ; they make a 
defence, though they let her be taken, and we even find them 
afterwards pretending to resent the capture. And while wives 
are commonly got by capture, peaceful delivery of the bride is 
a thing unknown in these cases — perhaps a thing not to be 
thought of. 

But the other varieties of this symbol all indicate the same 
origin for it. In cases of bride-catching there was actual 
capture; the woman's friends, when they had been arranged 
with, did not give her up — they let the bridegroom take her 
when he could. And when the woman had notice, and might 
hide herself (and the hiding had not become a mere form), if 
she could elude her pursuer she got off the marriage. In bride- 
racing, the bridegroom had to prove successful in a purely con- 
ventional ordeal ; but the prevalence of capture and the cases 
already noticed considered, it cannot be doubted that this 
embodied the idea that capture should precede marriage — that 
a woman should not go out of her tribe except by capture. If 
the bridegroom did not catch the bride he did not have her for 
a wife. The woman seems to have usually had so good a chance 
of escaping that her acquiescence in the lot proposed for her 
might be inferred from her being overtaken.] 

In the cases of the form of capture first to be presented, 
the leading idea symbolised is the capture of the bride after a 
conflict with her kinsmen. There appears in some of the earlier 


cases of the series a pretence of besieging the bride's house, or 
invading it and carrying her off. 

1. The people of Berry, in France, observe in their marriages 
several complex ceremonials. Among them is the form of 
capture, of which we have a lucid description from the pen of 
George Sand. 

The marriage-day having arrived, the bride and her friends 
shut themselves up in the home of the bride, barricade the 
doors, bar the windows, and otherwise prepare as if for a siege. 
In due course the bridegroom and his friends arrive and seek 
admittance. They try, at first, to obtain it by a variety of ruses, 
made in course of a long conversation, after a prescribed tra- 
ditionary pattern, which is carried on between spokesmen of the 
parties. They are weary pilgrims wanting rest; they are robbers 
fleeing from the police and seeking an asylum ; and so forth. 
Admittance being refused, they assail and batter at the doors ; 
they try, as it were, to take the place by storm. Those within 
the house, on the other hand, become active in its defence. 
Pistols are fired on both sides, and the barking of dogs, the shouts 
of the men and the outcries of the women, swell the uproar. 
When they are wearied there is a parley and another conver- 
sation, which, like the preceding, is after a traditionary pattern. 
The bridegroom's party are at last admitted on stating that 
they have brought a husband and presents for the bride. Then 
a struggle commences for the possession of the hearth. The 
incidents of attack and defence are again simulated, but with 
such an appearance of reality that broken ribs and heads are 
not unfrequently the result. The issue, of course, is that the 
assailants are victorious. The bridegroom obtains his bride, 
and the more peaceful ceremonies of the marriage are proceeded 
with. — Le Mare au Diahle, by George Sand. App. p. 151 
et seq. Paris, 1863. 

2. Several varieties of the form of capture appear among 
the South Slavonians. 

On the seaboard of Croatia marriages always take place on 
Sunday, but the marriage festivities begin on Saturday after- 
noon. When night comes (on Saturday), the bride and her 
friends being assembled, all the doors of the bride's house are 
closed to prevent a surprise by the bridegroom's party. The 
assembled guests are on the alert, and as soon as they hear the 
sound of singing at a distance (the expected visitors sing as 
they come) all the lights are put out, and all keep silence. The 
visitors, having come up, knock repeatedly without getting any 


answer ; but at length a conversation (in this case also on a 
traditional pattern) begins, in which the people outside try, on 
various pretexts, to get admission. They are poor travellers 
seeking for a ewe that has strayed ; the weather is bad, the 
snow up to their knees, the water up to their shoulders ; and 
this kind of colloquy is kept up for a long time. At length the 
door is opened ; the first man who steps over the threshold 
serves wine all round ; and, when every one has had to drink, 
the girls of the house pass in file before the visitors that they 
may look out their " lost ewe." The bride comes last ; the 
bridegroom embraces her ; and then singing and dancing 

What happens among the Croats is evidently a disintegrated 
form of what happens among the Berricors. There is less show 
of resistance. There is less still in some other South Slavonian 
districts where the same sort of thing appears. 

At Gradiska and at Brod, on the night before a wedding, the 
bridegroom's brother and some of his friends go to the bride's 
house. The doors are closed against them ; but the resistance 
offered, we are told, is not so great, nor kept up so long, as on 
the coasts of Croatia. After a time the visitors pay something, 
and the door is opened to them. The door is similarly closed 
against the bridegroom's party, and admission bought by them, 
among the Bulgars and among the Dalmatians. 

Wherever the use of arms continues among the South Sla- 
vonians, all the men go. armed bo a wedding. At Konavlje, two 
armed parties, one from the bridegroom's house, the other from 
the bride's, start at the same time for the church, meeting mid- 
way. The one party claims delivery of the bride, the other 
refuses ; and a long dispute takes place which always ends in a 
compromise — the bride's party promising the other that they 
will deliver up the bride to it, but only at the church-door. 

In many South Slavonian districts the bride goes through 
the form of hiding herself. In Bulgaria, when she arrives at 
her new home, she refuses to cross the threshold, and an attempt 
is made to drag her over it. She resists; and at last her com- 
pliance is purchased by the promise of some present. — Le 
Droit Coutumier des Slaves meridionaux d'aprh les Becherches 
de M. V. Bogisic. Par Fedor Demelic. P. 89, et seq. Paris, 


Such are the South Slavonian wedding customs of to-day. 
Going some way back, one learns without surprise from 
Dobrowsky {Cfesch. der Bohmisch. Sprache, p. 56) that, among 


the Morlaken in Dalmatia, " a courtship always ends, when both 
parties are agreed, in carrying off the bride, as among the Cos- 
sacks;" and, further (p. 117), that a dance in use among the 
Krainers might be taken " to be the allegorical representation of 
Slavonic maiden-stealing." 

The symbol of a siege is described to us in an indistinct form 
in Transylvania, but the indistinctness may in part be due to 
the brevity of the description. " When the bridegroom and his 
friends arrive at the bride's house, they find the door locked. 
The bridegroom must, as best he can, climb over into the court, 
open the door from within, and admit his companions." — Boner's 
Transylvania. P. 492. London, 186(5. 

3. Among the Mussulmans of India, in their weddings, when 
the bridegroom, attended by his friends in procession, arrives at 
the house of the bride, he finds the gate shut and guarded. 
He attempts to get in by a ruse. " Who are you that dare 
obstruct the king's cavalcade ? " The answer is, " Why, at 
night, so many thieves rove about, it is very possible you are 
some of them." A long jocular conversation follows, ending in 
a struggle. " At times, out of frolic, there is such pushing and 
shoving, that frequently many a one falls down and is hurt." 
The party are at last admitted on paying a sum of money. Then 
follows a sham fight within the gates ; after which, and other 
ceremonials,, the bridegxoom carries off his bride. — Herklot's 
Customs of the Mussulmans of India. P. 126. .London, 1832. 

4. It is the form of a siege which Lord Karnes has described 
as occurring among negroes of Central Africa (see text, page 19). 
In this case, the bridegroom is the midnight invader of the 
hamlet, temporarily deserted by its guardians. The braves 
feign absence ; the women unprotectedness. The house is easily 
mastered, and the bride carried off in triumph. — Karnes's Sketches 
of the History of Man. Vol. I., p. 449. Edinburgh, 1807. 

5. At Dungally (Straits of Macassar), a marriage having 
been arranged between the daughter of Tooa, late Rajah of 
Dungally — who had resigned in favour of his son Arvo — and 
the son of a Rajah, who had visited the town with a piratical 
prow, on the day appointed for the marriage aU the warriors of 
the place were armed ; and, about one in the afternoon, the 
young man with his father and all the men belonging to the 
prow, armed as if for an engagement, came on shore. They 
were received by the Rajah Arvo and others, and, after some 
preliminaries, about twenty of the crew were picked out 
to walk before the bridegroom, all armed with spears and 


shields. "They then proceeded from the beach to the town 
... At the same time about thirty men, armed with spears 
and shields, came from the town as if to oppose them, when 
a sham fight was entered into, which they performed very 
well, gradually retreating towards the town as the bridegroom 
and his party advanced thereto. A. patevipore, or piece of chintz, 
was extended across the gateway as if to prevent their entrance, 
till the Rajah's son had made a present to the men of Dungally ; 
he therefore gave them some betel-nut and some serric, which 
they chew with the betel, on which they withdrew the patem- 
pore. He then advanced some two rods farther, when the 
ipatempore was again put across. At the same time his people 
and those of the opposite party appeared to show the greatest 
anger towards each other by darting spears over each other's 
heads, until another present was made. The patempore was again 
removed, and replaced as before at short distances, till he reached 
the house where the bride was. He then went up, ascended 
the steps to go into the house, at the door of which the patem- 
pore was again placed, where he was required to make a larger 
present. He took out of his pocket a handful of betel-nut and 
serric to give them, and as they were reaching for it, they let 
the patempore slip, when be went past without giving them any, 
which caused considerable laughter. . . . The bridegroom was 
then conducted to a large room where the bride was waiting to 
receive him. . . . After supper the -couple were conveyed to 
their apartment, which was richly hung with patempores." — 
Theophilus Moore, Marriage Customs and Modes of Courtship of 
the Various Nations of the Universe. Second Edition. P. 196, 
et seq. London, 1820. [Quoted by Moore from a " respectable 
author " — not named. 

In this case we have first a sham fight outside the town, then 
a feint of resistance at the gateway, and thereafter a show of 
disputing from point to point the advance of the bridegroom 
and his party until they had made their way into the bride's 

6. Of the form of capture among the Circassians (described 
at page 18) all that need here be said is that in this case — as also 
in the plebeian marriage at Eome — it takes the shape of an in- 
vasion of the house, and forcible carrying off of the bride. 

7. "Dr. Krapf thinks that marriage is checked [among the 
Wa Kamba, Africa] by the large amount required to be paid 
for a wife, and by a singular custom among the Kambas, accord- 
ing to which the bridegroom is required to carry off his bride by 


force after the preliminaries are completed. This is attempted 
by the help of all the friends and relatives that the man can 
muster, and resisted by the friends and relatives of the woman, 
and the conflict now and then terminates in the discomfiture of 
the unlucky husband, who is reduced to the necessity of way- 
laying his wife when she may be alone in the fields or fetching 
water from the well. When the lady is brought home, the 
price is paid, and all contest is ended." — Pritchard's Natural 
History of Man. Vol. II. p. 402. London, 1855. 

The statement in Krapf 's Travels, &c., is less detailed, but is 
substantially the same. 

8. The Kookies, of whom there are several tribes on the 
north-east frontier of India, are fair representatives of the whole 
population, from Cape Negrais northwards, through Chittagong 
and Tipperah, to the Naga settlements above Munniepore. The 
Kookies, according to Colonel McCulloch [long political agent 
at Munniepore, author of the Account of the Valley of Mun- 
niepore referred to at p. 69 ; private letter], " have no marriage 
ceremony. When they go to bring away the bride, after having 
paid for her, they usually receive more kicks than halfpence 
from the village ; that is, they usually get well beaten. But, 
after the fight is over, the woman is quietly brought from her 
home and given to the party that came for her, outside the 
village gate." 

In this as in the preceding case there is so much of an 
appearance of earnest in the fight for the bride that the bride- 
groom's party might be beaten — and this seems to have been 
the usual thing among the Kookies. Both, nevertheless, are 
clearly examples of the simulated conflict. Among the Wa 
Kamba the bridegroom was, in general, allowed to get his bride ; 
while if he failed to get her in the fight he had to take her in 
some other Way. Among the Kookies, honour being satisfied 
— the proper form having been complied with — she was sent 
to him. 

As may be seen at page 13, the simulated conflict occurs in 
a disintegrated form among the Khonds of Orissa. 

9. The country of the Kolams extends aU along the Kandi 
Kondd or Pindi HiUs on the south of the Wurda River, and along 
the table-land stretching east and north of Manikgad, and thence 
south to Dantanpalli, running parallel to the western bank of 
the Panhita. " In the celebration of their marriages they follow 
a custom which prevails also among the Khonds, as it does 
among the tribes of the Caucasus, and did among not a few of 


the ancient European nations, I mean the practice of carrying 
off a bride by force. When a young man desires to enter on 
the connubial state, two or three friends of the family, having 
heard of a suitable partner in the neighbourhood, and most pro- 
bably having coijie to a good understanding with her relations, 
proceed thither on their errand of abduction. The men in the 
village, who see what is going on, do not interfere, and the op- 
position of the matrons is easily overcome. The nuptials are 
celebrated in the bridegroom's house, after which he and his 
bride pay a visit to the family of the latter, and the friendship, 
which had been seemingly interrupted, is formally re-established." 
— Papers relating to the Aboriginal Tribes of the Central Provinces. 
By the Rev. S. Hislop. Edited by R. Temple. 1866. 

The description given here can only apply to cases in which 
marriage has been arranged for. There is no serious opposition. 
The men hold aloof. It is the women who resent the capture, 
but their resistance is meant to be of no avail. The Kolams, 
however, appear to have capture and the form of capture side 
by side. 

10. The ancient and most general way of obtaining a wife 
among the Maoris of New Zealand, Mr. Taylor tells us, was 
for the man to get together a party of his friends and carry 
off the woman by force. And "even in the case when all 
were agreeable, it was still customary for the bridegroom to go 
with a party, and appear to take her away by force, her friends 
yielding her up after a feigned struggle. A few days afterwards 
the parents of the lady, with all her relatives, came to the 
bridegroom for his pretended abduction. After much speaking 
and apparent anger the bridegroom generally made a handsome 
present of fine mats, &c., giving the party an abundant feast." — 
Te Ika A Maui; or, New Zealand and its Inhabitants, p. 163. 
By the Rev. Richard Taylor. London, 1855. 

Here we have the form of capture — in the shape of the 
simulated conflict — and, at the same time, a clear disclosure of 
its origin. 

11. Among the Mongols of the Ortous, M. Hue tells us, 
marriage is a matter of sale and purchase, which is clearly ex- 
pressed in such phrases as " I have bought for my son the 
daughter of so and so ; " " We have sold our daughter to such 
and such a family." The marriage-day having arrived, " the 
bridegroom sends early in the morning a deputation to fetch 
the girl who has been betrothed to him, or rather whom he has 
bought. When the envoys draw near, the relations and friends 


of the bride place themselves in a circle before the door, as if to 
oppose the departure of the bride ; and then begins a feigned 
light, which of course terminates in the bride being carried off. 
She is placed on a horse, and having been led thrice round her 
paternal home, is taken at full gallop to the tent which has been 
prepared for her near the dwelling of her father-in-law." There- 
after the relations and friends of both families repair to the 
wedding feast. — Hue's Journey through Tartary, Thibet, and 
China. Trans, by W. H. Hazlitt. Vol. I., p. 185. London, 

At page 15 will be found de Hell's account of the same cere- 
mony as observed in Kalmuck marriages, especially in those of 
the noble and princely class. 

12. In Abyssinia, Mr. Mansfield Parkyns tells us, on the 
night before a wedding festivities take place both at the house 
of the bridegroom and at the house of the bride, during which 
the " deball," or war-dance (hereafter described) is from time to 
time performed. On the wedding-day the bridegroom and his 
friends go to the bride's house, all riding on mules, armed with 
guns, swords, and lances, and dressed in fine clothes — clothes, 
arms, and mules being often lent by some great man for the 
occasion. " When arrived near the bride's house the nearest 
convenient plain is selected, and the horsemen commence 
galloping about, the gunners fire off their matchlocks, and the 
lancers dash here and there, enacting altogether a sort of sham 
fight. This, I suppose [says Mr. Parkyns] is done to divert 
the bridegroom's mind." On entering the house the bride- 
groom's friends and the bride's range themselves on opposite 
sides of it. The man expresses his willingness to marry the girl ; 
the arrangements with the father are concluded ; and then " the 
bridegroom takes his bride, and sans cdrimonie turns her out, 
giving her into the charge of his friends outside the door." He 
returns to join in the "deball," or war-dance, in which both 
parties engage. " This dance is performed by men armed with 
shields and lances, who with bounds, feints and springs attack 
others armed with guns, so as to approach them, and at the 
same time avoid their fire, while the gunners make similar 
demonstrations, and at last fire off their guns either in the air 
or into the earth, and then, drawing their swords, flourish them 
about as a finish." By and by the bride is carried off on a mule 
- with one of the bridesmen seated behind her. She appears to 
be treated on the wedding-night by the bridegroom and his 
bridesmen as a woman who had fallen into the hands of a war- 


party might have been. — Life in Abyssinia, by Mansfield 
Parkyns. Vol. II. pp. 51-56. London, 1853. 

13. In the kingdom of Foutah, in the west of Africa, 
marriage was by purchase, the terms being arranged before- 
hand, and the agreement of the parties proclaimed at the 
priest's house. " There remains," we are told, " only one 
difficulty, which consists in withdrawing the wife from her 
paternal home. All her cousins assemble in front of the door 
to oppose the bridegroom's entrance, but he always finds means 
to conciliate them with presents. He then puts forward one of 
his relatives well mounted, commissioned to bring him his wife 
on horseback. But hardly has she mounted behind him when 
the women take to lamentations and endeavour to stop him. 
ISTevertheless, the rights of the husband carry the day." — 
Walckenaer's Collection des Relations des Voyages. Vol. IV. pp. 20 
21. Paris, 1842. 

Another account says that, after the marriage has been 
arranged, "the husband, accompanied by some friends of his 
own age, comes in the evening, by moonhght, to the house 
of his wife, and endeavours to carry her off. He is always 
successful, notwithstanding her resistance and her cries, and 
although she is seconded by all the young girls of the village 
or town. The air resounds with their lamentations. As this 
is but a simple custom, and has nothing more serious in it 
than the attempts of the young people to oppose the captor, 
this comedy always ends in the bride falling happily into the 
arms of her husband." — Walckenaer's Collection. Vol. IV. pp. 
173, 174. 

14. " In their marriages," says Sir Henry Piers, of the Irish, 
" especially in those countries where cattle abound, the parents 
and friends on each side meet on the side of a hill, or, if the 
weather be cold, in some place of shelter, about midway between 
both dwellings. If agreement ensue, they drink the agreement 
bottle, as they call it, which is a bottle of good usquebaugh, and 
this goes merrily round. For payment of the portion — which 
is generally a determinate number of cows — little care is taken. 
.... On the day of bringing home, the bridegroom and his 
friends ride out and meet the bride and her friends at the place 
of meeting. Being come near each other, the custom was of 
old to cast short darts at the company that attended the bride, 
but at such distance that seldom any hurt ensued. Yet it is 
not out of the memory of man that the Lord of Hoath on such 
an occasion lost an eye. This custom of casting darts is now 


obsolete." — Vallency's Collectanea de Rebus Hihemicis. Vol. I., 
p. 122. 1786. No. 1, Description of Westmeath, by Sir Henry 
Piers, written in 1682. 

The symbol in this case is disintegrated to a great extent. 
But, no doubt, at an earlier date there was the perfect semblance 
of a battle. It is very singular to find, in the simulation of 
attack by the bridegroom's party, the short darts of old Celtic 
warfare used down to the seventeenth century. 

It is well known that actual abduction was very common 
among the Irish. Many provisions concerning "abduction 
without leave" are to be found in tbe Irish law-books, from 
which it is to be gathered that an arrangement was usually 
come to after the event. Abduction with leave, abduction by 
arrangement, would of course be the form of capture. 

An account of the simulated conflict, as it is described to us 
among the Welsh, will be found at page 18. Besides that this 
is a good example of the simulated conflict, it is valuable as 
affording the suggestion that this variety of the form of capture 
might pass into " bride-racing." 

Mr. Logan, in his book on the Highland clans, in noticing 
Sir Henry Piers's account, above cited, gives some facts which 
go to show that the Scottish Highlanders also had the form of 
capture. And correspondents of good authority state that, in 
some parts of the Highlands, and in some districts of Aberdeen- 
shire, it was common for the parties of the bride and bridegroom 
to go in procession to a point of meeting, mid way between their 
dwellings, and on the way to the minister's house, and when 
they came near each other, to fire volleys at one another from 
pistols and muskets ; while, on the return home, the marriage 
procession was fired at nearly all the way. After what has been 
shown of the Irish and Welsh, it can scarcely be doubted that 
this is a relic of the simulated conflict ; and this is made the 
less doubtful by our finding in the Isle of Skye and in the West 
Highlands a faint but unmistakable relic of another variety of 
the form of capture in a ceremony known as " stealing the bride." 
It occurred in the middle of a reel. The groomsman and brides- 
maid slipped into the place in the dance of the bride and 
bridegroom, while the bridegroom suddenly jerked the bride 
out of the room. 

15. The evidence that the Greeks observed the form of 
capture otherwise than as "bride-racing" relates to the Dorians 
only, and is noticed at page 12; but what was true of them 
was most probably true, anciently, of all the Greek tribes, 


for the Dorians differed from the others chiefly through having 
better preserved the ancient customs. That the Dorians had 
the form of capture is proved by the story of Demaratus; 
but neither this nor Plutarch's statement, which proves the 
form of capture among the Spartans — among whom latterly 
it suflSced to seize the bride and carry her from one room to 
another — shows whether the simulated combat occurred among 
the Greeks or not. That they had it anciently, however, cannot 
be doubted. In the practice of TraiBepaffTia the dilVa? was 
always carried off by force, the intention of the ravisher having 
been previously communicated to the youth's relations, who 
made a feigned resistance. Here is the form of capture in 
the shape of the simulated conflict ; and it may safely be con- 
cluded that a people who had it in this shape in such a matter, 
and had it also in their marriages, had it anciently in this shape 
in their marriages.^ — Strabo, B. 10, c. 4, s. 21. 

The cases which follow are examples of bride-catching — » 
cases in which the bridegroom had to catch and carry away his 
bride after having come to an understanding with her friends — 
proceeding, although the marriage was the subject of contract, 
as if acting without consent. The old Norse word qudn-fang — 
vnfe-catching — was used in the sense of marriage, which proves 
that bride-catching was a Norse institution. An excellent 
example of bride-catching, from Tierra del Fuego, is given in 

1 [The case of the Garos (India — Dalton's Descriptive Ethnology of 
Bengal} has not been included among the examples here given — for an 
obvious reason ; but it is curious, and should not pass without notice. 

Among the Garos proposals of marriage come from the woman's side. 
The marriage having been arranged, the girl goes ofE to the hills. The 
man follows her and finds her, and (having provisions with them) they 
stay there for some days. On their return the marriage is publicly 
announced and solemnised. After bathing the bride in a stream, her 
friends proceed to the house of the bridegroom, "who pretends to be 
unwilling, and runs away, but is caught and subjected to a similar 
ablution, and then taken, in spite of the resistance and counterfeited grief 
and lamentations of his parents, to the bride's house." 

Here the bridegroom is the party taken in marriage, and there is, at 
the last, a form of capturing the bridegroom. 

But, first of all, the girl goes off to the hills by herself, and the man 
follows and finds her. This looks very like a remainder of the form of 
capture (as will appear immediately) ; and it suggests that there was a 
time when, among the Garos, proposals did not come from the woman's 
side, and that they have had their experience of getting wives by capture. 
This is made more probable — even if it is not put beyond doubt— by their 
being exogamous.] 


the text at page 20. The case of the Timguzes and Kam- 
chadales, mentioned at page 17, is also of this class. 

1. Among the Tartars, William de Rubriquis tells us, " when 
any man hath bargained with another man for a maid, the 
father of the damsel makes him a feast ; in the meantime she 
flies away to some of her kinsfolk to hide herself. Then her 
father says to the bridegroom, ' My daughter is yours ; take her 
wheresoever you can find her.' Then he and his friends seek 
her till they find her, and, having found her, he takes her by 
force and carries her to his own house." — Pinkerton's Collection. 
Vol. VI., p. 183. 

2. Among the Wa-teita (Central Africa) marriage is by 
purchase, but, after the contract is made, the woman has to be 
captured. " When an M-teita marries he settles the prelimi- 
naries with the father in accordance with the usual negro 
custom — that is to say, he buys her for three or four cows. 
This important matter settled, the girl runs away and hides 
among distant relatives until such time as her betrothed finds 
out her hiding-place and catches her. He then gets some of 
his friends, who carry her back to her future home, two men 
holding her by the legs and two by the arms, shoulder high, 
amidst much singing and dancing. The four men who carry 
the girl are said to be rewarded in a very peculiar fashion." — 
Through Masai Land, by Joseph Thomson, p. 93. London, 1885. 

3. " An instance of the manner in which the young men of 
that country [the district near Kayaye on the river Gambia] 
obtain wives also came under our observation. One of the 
inhabitants of the neighbouring villages, having placed his 
affections, or rather desires, on a young girl at Kayaye, made 
the usual present of a few colas to her mother, who, without 
giving her daughter any intimation of the affair, consented to 
his obtaining her in any way he could. Accordingly, when the 
poor girl was employed preparing some rice for supper, she was 
seized by her intended husband, assisted by three or four of 
his companions, and carried off by force. She made much 
resistance by biting, scratching, kicking, and roaring most 
bitterly. Many, both men and women, some of them her own 
relations, who witnessed the affair, only laughed at the farce, 
and consoled her by saying that she would soon be reconciled 
to her situation." — Gray and Dochard's Travels in Western 
Africa, p. 56. London, 1825. 

4. Among the Zulus marriage is by purchase, and the bride 
is, after much ceremonial, handed over to the bridegroom and 



his people by a party of her kinsfolk. But custom requires 
that she should make three attempts to run back to her old 
home, and that she should be prevented by the bridegroom's 
people. The last attempt, made on the second day, and after 
she has been installed in her position as wife, is the only serious 
one. " There have been cases where the bride got out of the 
gate, which was a terrible disgrace to the young man who had 
been appointed to stop her, to the husband, and all concerned, 
besides the expense, seeing that the whole ceremony had to be 
gone through again." — Among the Zulus and Amatongas, by 
David Leslie, pp. 116-118. Second edition. Edinburgh, 1875. 

5. The form of capture among the Maoris of New Zealand, 
in the shape of the simulated combat, as described by Mr. 
Taylor, has already been mentioned. Another account (Earle's 
Residence in New Zealand) says that the bridegroom, after 
obtaining consent, had to carry off the girl by force, and that a 
severe struggle sometimes took place, in which the man was 
not always successful. If the girl could manage to escape and 
get into her father's house, the marriage was off. If the man 
could carry her to his house, she was forthwith his wife. 

6. " On the large islands [of the Fijian group] is often 
found the custom prevalent among many savage tribes of 
seizing upon a woman, by apparent or actual force, in order to 
make her a wife. On reaching the home of her abductor, 
should she not approve of the match, she runs to some one 
who can protect her ; if, however, she is satisfied, the matter is 
settled forthwith. A feast is given to her friends the next 
morning, and the couple are henceforth considered as man and 
wife." — Fiji and the Fijians. By Thomas Williams, p. 174. 
London, 1858. 

7. In the Amazon valley the natives have no particular 
ceremony at their marriages except that of always carrying the 
girl away by force, or making a show of doing so, even when 
she and her parents are quite willing. The way in which the 
capture is made is very singular. " When a young man wishes 
to have the daughter of another Indian, his father sends a 
message to say he will come, with his son and relations, to visit 
him. The girl's father guesses what it is for, and, if he is 
agreeable, makes preparations for a grand festival. This lasts, 
perhaps, two or three days, when the bridegroom's party suddenly 
seize the bride, and hurry her oflf to their canoes. No attempt 
is made to prevent them, and she is then considered as married." 
T— Wallace's Travels on the Amazon, p. 497. London, 1853. 


8. Among the Ahitas [Philippine Islands], when a marriage 
is in question, the girl's parents send her, before sunrise, into 
the woods, and the would-be husband follows her an hour after. 
If he brings her back before sunset there is marriage ; if not, 
the affair is at an end. — Earl's Native Races of tlie Indian 
Archipelago, p. 183. London, 1853. 

In this case there seems to be an approach to bride- 

9. Among the Greenlanders, when a young man has re- 
solved to marry, he first proposes the match to his parents, 
whose consent in general is given readily. Then, two old 
women are sent to negotiate with the parents of the bride. 
They at first say nothing of a marriage, but speak in praise of 
the bridegroom and his family ; whereupon the girl " directly 
falls into the greatest apparent consternation, and nins out of 
doors tearing her bunch of hair ; for single women always affect 
the utmost bashfulness and aversion to any proposal of marriage, 
lest they should lose their reputation for modesty, though their 
destined husbands be previously well assured of their acqui- 
escence. . . . During their daughter's bashful fit, the parents 
tacitly comply with the proposal, without any express appro- 
bation. The women then go in search of the refractory maid, 
and drag her forcibly into her suitor's house, where she sits for 
several days quite disconsolate, with dishevelled hair, and refuses 
nourishment. When friendly exhortations are unavailing, she 
is compelled by force, and even blows, to receive her husband. 
Should she elope, she is brought back and treated more harshly 
than before." — Crantz's History of Greenland. Vol. I., p. 146. 
London, 1820. 

The same kind of thing occurs among the Esquimaux of 
Cape York. The bridegroom is required to carry off his bride 
by main force, and the woman to resist as much as possible 
" until she is safely landed in the hut of her future lord, when 
she gives up the combat very cheerfully, and takes possession 
of her new abode." — Hayes, The Open Polar Sea, p. 432. 1867. 

10. Among the Indians of Canada, Carver tells us, after the 
marriage was over, the bridegroom took his wife on his back, 
and, amid the plaudits of the spectators, carried her to his tent. 
—Carver's Travels, p. 374. 1781. 

11. Among the Soligas [India], "when a girl consents to 
marry, the man runs away with her to some neighbouring 
village, and they live there untU the honeymoon is over. They 
then returp home, and give a feast to the people of their 

N 2 


village." — Buchanan's Journey from Madras. Vol. II., p. 178, 

12. " The marriage ceremony is very simple among the 
Aenezes [Arabs]. . . . The marriage-day being appointed 
(usually five or six days after the betrothing), the bridegroom 
comes with a lamb in his arms to the tent of the girl's father, 
and there cuts the lamb's throat before witnesses. As soon as 
the blood falls upon the ground the marriage ceremony is 
regarded as complete. The men and girls amuse themselves 
with feasting and singing. Soon after sunset the bridegroom 
retires to a tent pitched for him at a distance from the camp ; 
there he shuts himself ujp, and awaits the arrival of his bride. 
The bashful girl meanwhile runs from the tent of one friend to 
another till she is caught at last, and conducted in triumph by 
a few women to the bridegroom's tent ; he receives her at the 
entrance, and forces her into it ; the women who had accom- 
panied her then depart." — Burckhardt's Notes. Vol. I., p. 107. 

13. Burckhardt, after noticing that, among the Bedouins of 
Mount Sinai, marriage is a matter of sale and purchase, in which 
the inclinations of the bride are not consulted, proceeds : — 
"Among the Arabs of Sinj^ithe young maid comes home in the 
evening with the cattle. ; At a short distance from the camp she 
is met by the future spouse and a couple of his young friends, 
and carried oflf by force to her father's tent. If she entertains 
any suspicion of their designs, she defends herself with stones, 
and often inflicts wounds on the young men, even though she 
does not dislike the lover, for, according to custom, the more 
she struggles, bites, kicks, cries, and strikes, the more she is 
applauded ever after by her own companions. She is then 
taken to her father's tent. There follows the throwing over her 
of the abba, or man's cloak, and a formal announcement of the 
name of her future husband. After this she is dressed in bridal 
apparel, and mounted on a camel, although still continuing to 
struggle in a most unruly manner, and held by the bridegroom's 
friends on both sides. She is led in this way two, and three 
times round, and finally into, the bridegroom's tent. The 
resistance is continued till the last. The marriage, of course, 
ends in a feast and presents to the bride." — Burckhardt's Notes. 
Vol. I., p. 26.3. 

14. Among the Mezeyne marriage appears to be a matter of 
sale and purchase, and to be constituted, as among the Aenezes, 
through capture as a form. It is attended by a custom 
which is met with in other cases, but scarcely in so striking 


a shape. " A singular custom," says Burckhardt (Notes. Vol. I. 
p. 269), "prevails among the Mezeyne tribe, within the 
limits of the Sinai peninsula, but not among the other tribes of 
that province. A girl having been wrapped in the abba at night 
\i.e. after the capture, as in the preceding case], is permitted to 
escape from her tent and fly into the neighbouring mountains. 
The bridegroom goes in search of her next day, and remains 
often many days before he can find her out, while her female 
friends are apprised of her hiding-place, and furnish her with 
provisions. If the husband finds her at last (which is sooner or 
later, according to the impression that he has made upon the 
girl's heart), he is bound to consummate the marriage in the 
open country, and to pass the night with her in the mountains. 
The next morning the bride goes home to her tent that she may 
have some food, but again runs away in the evening, and repeats 
these flights several times, till she finally returns to her tent. 
She does not go to live in her husband's tent till she is far 
advanced in pregnancy ; if she does not become pregnant, she 
may not join her husband till after a full year from the wedding- 
day." Burckhardt says the same custom is observed among the 
Mezeyne Arabs elsewhere. 

This custom must have been handed down from a state of 
the greatest " wildness." The clandestine intercourse of husband 
and wife at Sparta and in Crete seems to be a tradition of it. 
Customs suggestive of it occur in other places. In Africa, in 
some, districts, husband and wife for years meet only in the 
woods. The stealthy communication of husband and wife is 
required by custom, also, among the Nogais and the Circassians. 

Reference may here be made to page 47, where it appears 
there is authority for believing that, among the Israelites, as 
well as among the Arabs, "the taking" of the bride was the 
chief ceremony in the constitution of marriage ; which would 
show that the Israelites, also, had the form of capture. 

The cases next given are examples of bride-racing — cases in 
which, after a woman's friends had agreed to a marriage for her, 
the man had, as a condition of having her as his wife, to over- 
take her in a race. The German word hriHtloufti, — bride-racing 
— is used in the sense of marriage, which proves that bride- 
racing was a German institution. In the Greek legends there 
are numerous hints of it having been a Greek institution also. 
At page 15 it is shown that bride-racing was practised among 
the Kalmucks (who had the form of capture, also, in the shape 


of the simulated conflict). The " love-chase " of the Kirghiz, 
shown in the first example following, is obviously a version of 
the Kalmuck custom. 

1. " There is one race, called the ' Love-chase,' which may 
be considered a part of the form of marriage among the Kirghis. 
In this the bride, armed with a formidable whip, mounts a fleet 
Lorse, and is pursued by all the young men who make any 
pretensions to her hand. She will be given as a prize to the 
one who catches her ; but she has the right, besides urging on 
her horse to the utmost, to use her whip, often with no mean 
force, to keep off those lovers who are unwelcome to her, and 
she will probably favour the one whom she has already chosen 
in her heart. As, however, by the Kirghis' custom a suitor to 
the hand of a maiden is obliged to give a certain Tcalym, or 
purchase-money, and an agreement must be made with the 
father for the amount of dowry which he gives his daughter, the 
' Love-chase ' is a mere matter of form." — Schuyler's Turkistan. 
Two Vols. Vol. I., p. 43. London. 1876. 

What follows shows us that another relic of capture appears 
in the marriages of the Kirghis. " As mullahs are very rare in 
the Steppe," says Mr. Schuyler, " a religious ceremony of any 
kind at a marriage is unusual ; but one thing must be strictly 
performed .... the young man must enter the kibiika where 
the bride is seated and take her out, although both entrance and 
exit are forcibly opposed by all her friends. This is probably a 
remnant of the old primitive custom when marriage was an act 
of capture." 

"The Kirghiz race," Mr. Schuyler tells us (p. 34), "has 
almost as much of a Mongol as of a Turkish type. This is 
especially noticeable," he says, " in the aristocratic class — above 
all, in their women; and one reason is said to be that the 
Kirghiz, until recent times, preferred, whenever possible, to 
marry Kalmuck women, carrying them off from the confines of 
China or the Astrakhan Steppe." 

2. Vamb^ry says that this " marriage ceremonial " (bride- 
racing), no doubt with modifications from case to case, is ia use 
among all the nomads of Central Asia. He describes it in the 
case of the Turkomans. The young maiden, attired in bridal 
costume, mounts a high-bred courser, taking on her lap the 
carcase of a lamb or goat. She sets off at full gallop, followed 
by the bridegroom and other young men of the party, also on 
horseback. She has always to strive, by adroit turns, &c., to 
avoid her pursuers, that no one of them approach near enough 


to snatch from her the burden in her lap. The chase ends, it 
may be believed, in her being caught. " The game " is called 
Kokburi. — Vdmb^ry's Travels in Central Asia, p. 323. London. 

3. The natives of Singapore, who ai'e accustomed to boating, 
have an aquatic variety of bride-racing. They have it, also, in 
the shape of a foot-race. They hold great jubilees, at the fruit 
season, near the groves of the tribe, which often lie together, 
and during these jubilees their marriages take place. "The 
marriage ceremony," says Mr. Cameron, " is a simple one, and 
the new acquaintance of the morning is often the bride of the 
evening. On the part of the suitor it is more a matter of 
arrangement with the parents than of courtship with the 
daughter ; but there is a form generally observed which reminds 
one strongly of the old tale of Hippomenes and Atalanta. If 
the tribe is on the bank of a lake or stream, the damsel is given 
a canoe and a double-bladed paddle, and allowed a start of some 
distance ; the suitor, similarly equipped, starts off in chase. If 
he succeeds in overtaking her, she becomes his wife ; if not, the 
match is broken off. ... It is seldom that objection is offered 
at the last moment, and the race is generally a short one. The 
maiden's arms are strong, but her heart is soft, and her nature 
warm, and she soon becomes a willing captive. If the marriage 
takes place where no stream is near, a round circle of a certain 
size is formed, the damsel is stripped of all but a waistband, and 
given half the circle's start in advance ; and if she succeeds in 
running three times round before her suitor comes up with her, 
she is entitled to remain a virgin ; if not, she must consent to 
the bonds of matrimony. As in the other case, but few outstrip 
their lovers." — Gur Tropical Possessions in Malayan India. By 
J. Cameron, p. 116. London, 1865. 

Bowrien, speaking of the Mantrays of the Malay peninsula, 
describes the foot-race much as it is given above, and adds that 
at times " a larger field is appointed for the trial, and they 
pursue one another in the forest." — Trans. Ethn. Sac., Vol. III., 
p. 81. 

4. Bride-racing is found also among the Koraks (North- 
Eastern Asia). The race takes place within a large tent 
containing numerous separate compartments, called pologs, 
arranged in a continuous circle round its inner circumference, 
and the girl is clear of the marriage if she can run through the 
series of pologs without being caught. Besides that she has a 
start, the -women of the encampment throw every possible im- 


pediment in the man's way, " tripping up his unwary feet, 
holding down the curtains to prevent his passage, and applying 
willow and alder switches unmercifully to a very susceptible 
part of his body " as he stoops to raise them. Hampered as he 
is, however strong and swift he may be, the man has scarcely 
any chance of succeeding unless the woman wishes it. In a trial 
described by Mr. Kennan he was hopelessly distanced, but the 
bride waited for him in the last polog. The race, in fact, gives 
the woman a veto upon the marriage. — Kennan's Teni L%f6 in 
Siheria. 1870. 

The cases which follow illustrate in one way or another the 
movement from capture in connection with marriage. 

1. At pages 35-38 it is shown that at a period not remote, 
in Muscovy, Lithuania, Livonia, and other parts of the north of 
Europe, there prevailed a practice of capturing women for wives 
by armed force, the capture being followed by a negotiation 
with the parents, and, on that being completed, by marriage ; 
and it is pointed out that, though there was actual capture, the 
intervention of sponsalia and the consent of parents before the 
consummation of the marriage shows this to be a mode of 
transition from actual capture to marriage by contract with 
capture as a form. We learn from the Chronicle of Nestor, 
the oldest of the Russian Chronicles, what were, at an earlier 
period, the marriage customs of some of the inhabitants of those 

The Polians, Nestor tells us — speaking of the neighbourhood 
of Kieff — had formal marriage. The bridegroom did not go to 
fetch his bride, but she was carried to him in the evening, and 
the price agreed to be given for her was sent the next day. 
But the Polians were singular in that region in having marriage 
so regularly conducted. Their neighbours, the Dreyvians, Nestor 
says, had no marriage ; they carried away maidens by force, and 
took them to their beds. So far as appears, they got their wives 
by capture only, without agreement either before the capture 
or after. The Radimitschans, the Viatitschans, and the 
Severians, Nestor says, like the Dreyvians got their wives by 
capture, without agreement with the parents either before or 
after the capture; but they had hit upon a method of 
making wiving by capture easy, so that they had the form 
of capture in the germ. There was inter-tribal arrange- 
ment before the capture, though there was no arrangement with 
parents. " They arranged noisy, merry games, in which they were 


brought together ; they played, danced, and sang devilish songs ; 
and, at the end, each man carried away a woman, who became 
his wife." {Bussiche Aniialen. Edited by A. L. Schlozer. Part 
II., p. 125.) 

It is not surprising that reminiscences of the time when 
wives were got by capture should linger to this day in the 
marriage customs of the Russians as of the other Slav peoples. 

" ' To the forcible carrying away of the bride seems to refer,' 
says Orest Miller, ' a long series of nuptial songs from all parts, 
not only of Russia, but of the whole Slavonic world.' In them 
the bridegroom is spoken of as a foreigner and a stranger who 
has been wafted — Heaven knows whence ! — by a black cloud, 
and who is surrounded by brave companions hostile to the bride. 
Even among the Czechs, whose ideas have been considerably 
modified by foreign influences, the amval of the bridegroom is 
still announced by the words, ' The enemy is near at hand ! ' 
' The bridegroom, that evil thief, has come,' says a bologda song. 
In Russia he is often called, after the invaders of the land, the 
Tartars or the Lithuanians. In order to get at the bride, the 
bridegroom has to batter down the walls of stone, to ' let fly the 
arrow of pearl,' to ' shatter the guarding locks.' .... One of 
the many acts in the long drama, as it were, which is per- 
formed at every peasant's wedding, consists in a repre- 
sentation of the attack and defence of the bride. Thus, in 
Little Russia, when the bride's dresses have been unplaited and 
the cap is being put on her head, she is bound to resist with all 
her might, and even to fling her cap angrily on the ground. 
Then the groomsmen, at the cry of ' Boyars, to your swords ! ' 
pretend to seize their knives and make a dash at the bride, who 
is thereupon surrounded by her friends, who come rushing to the 
rescue." — Ralston's Songs of the Russian People. Pp. 284, 285. 

2. " The Mirdites," says Mr. Tozer, " never intermarry, but 
when any of them, from the highest to the lowest, wants a wife, 
he carries ofif a Mohammedan woman from one of the neighbouring 
tribes, baptises her, and marries her. The parents, we are told, 
do not usually feel much aggrieved, as it is pretty well under- 
stood that a sum of money will be paid in return ; and, though 
the Mirdites themselves are very fanatical in matters of religion, 
yet their neighbours [the Christian and Mohammedan tribes being 
alike Slavs] are reputed to allow the sentiment of nationality 
to prevail over that of creed. . . . Prince Bib himself won his 
spouse in this way. My reader will naturally inquire .... what 


becomes of the Mirdite women ? The answer is, they are given 
in marriage to the neighbouring Christian tribes. If any one 
considers this incredible in so large a population, he is at liberty 
to adopt the more moderate statement of M. Hecquard, who 
only speaks of this custom as existing among the chiefs ; but 
I state the facts as they were stated to me, and, since the ground 
of the custom was distinctly affirmed to be the feeling that 
marriage within the tribe is incestuous, and, wherever in similar 
cases this belief has existed, the custom of exogamy, as it is 
called, together with the capture of wives, has existed also, I 
feel very little doubt, in my own mind, that the stronger state- 
ment is the true one." 

Mr. Tozer goes on to observe that " the case of the Mirdites 
is a pecuUarly interesting one, because, while the system of 
exogamy is perfect, it presents us with the reality of capture on 
the eve of merging in the form — since a sum of money is paid 
afterwards, and but little resistance apparently offered — but 
permanently checked in doing so by the fact that the women 
carried off are Mohammedans, who cannot, without violence, be 
married to Christians." — Researches in the Highlands of Turkey. 
Vol. I., pp. 318 et seq. By the Kev. H. J. Tozer. London, 1869. 

3. We find the following account of the constitution of 
marriage among the Turkomans : — 

" The most singular customs of these people (the Turko- 
mans) relate to marriage. The Turkomans do not shut up 
their women, and there being no restraint on the social inter- 
course between the sexes, as in most Mussulman countries, love 
matches are common. A youth becomes acquainted with a girl ; 
they are mutually attached, and agree to marry : but the young 
man does not dare to breathe his wishes to the parents of his 
beloved, for such is not etiquette, and would be resented as an 
insult. What does he do ? He elopes with the girl, and carries 
her to some neighbouring obah, where, such is the custom, there 
is no doubt of a kind reception ; and there the young couple 
live as man and wife for some six weeks, when the Reish- 
suffeeds, or elders of the protecting obah, deem it time to talk 
over the matter with the parents. Accordingly they represent 
the wishes of the young couple, and, joined by the elders of 
the father's obah, endeavour to reconcile him to the union, 
promising, on the part of the bridegroom, a handsome hasMogue, 
or price, for his wife. In due time the consent is given, on 
which the bride returns to her father's house, where, strange to 
say, she is retained for six months or a year, and sometimes two 


j'ears, according, as it appears, to her caprice or the parents' 
will, having no communication with her husband unless by 
stealth. The meaning of this strange separation I never could 
ascertain. . . . Afterwards the marriage presents and price of 
the wife are interchanged, and she goes finally to live with her 
husband." — Eraser's Journey. Vol. II., p. 372. 1838. 

" Matches are also made up occasionally by the parents them- 
selves, with or without the intervention of the Keish-suffeeds, 
but the order and ceremonies of the nuptials are the same. 
There is a regular contract and a stipulated price ; the young 
people are permitted to enjoy each other's society for a month 
or six weeks ; and the bride then returns, as in the former case, 
to spend a year or more with her parents." — Ihid., vol. II., 
p. 375.) 

The stealthy communications of husband and wife, and 
postponement for a period of open cohabitation, which appear 
in this case, have already been noticed as occurring among the 
Mezeyne after a contract for marriage, and after the form of 
capture had been observed. In Sparta, too — where also the 
form of capture was observed — the young wife was not, im- 
mediately after the marriage, domiciled in her husband's house, 
but had communications with him for some time clandestinely, 
till he brought her, and frequently her mother, to his home.^ 
— Xenophon, Rep. Lac., 1-5. 

Cases in which the form is greatly disintegrated have 
already been mentioned as occasion served (some are given in 
Chapter II.), and it does not seem necessary now to go at 

1 [In other cases we have forcible abduction followed by an arrange- 
ment, and thereupon marriage. In this case, circumstances having changed 
without the contract having come (such, at any rate, is the statement) into 
the foremost place, abduction has been succeeded by elopement — an 
arrangement following after the man and woman have lived for some time 
together away from the woman's relatives. Then, as among the Mezeyne 
(after a contract and capture made of the woman again and again), the 
woman returns, or is returned, to her family — to be given up after a proper 

It has already appeared, on the authority of Vambdry, that the 
Turkomans (or some of them) have a tradition of bride-racing. 

According to Mr. A. W. Hewitt, elopement was extensively practised 
among an Australian tribe, the Kurnai. The lovers, after they had gone 
oS, were joined by a party of the man's kinsfolk, and thereupon the woman 
was treated as she would have been by the same people had they taken 
lier in battle. She was, in general, pursued before long by her relatives. 
When she was recovered, the man usually got her in the end. (Kamilaroi 
ami Kurnai, by Lorimer Fison and A. W. Howitt, 1880.)] 


length into such cases. The most important class of them, 
perhaps, is that in which there occurs, either at leaving the 
bride's house or on arrival at the husband's, some faint symbol 
of the woman's captivity ; the meaning of which is sometimes 
made more unquestionable by our finding along with it, or close 
beside it, the form of capture in one of its clearer varieties. 
With the patricians at Rome it sufficed that the bridegroom 
should carry the bride over the threshold of his house ("be- 
cause," Plutarch says, " the Sabine women did not go in 
voluntarily, but were carried in by violence ") ; that he should 
part her hair with a spear (" in memory of the first marriages 
being brought about in a warlike manner"). At Sparta, lat- 
terly, it was enough for the bridegroom to catch up the bride 
and carry her from one room to another. At an earlier stage, 
it was a necessary form at Sparta that the bride should be 
carried off with violence. The Mussulman of India — the same 
who observed the mock siege — had, besides, to carry in his bride 
like the Roman. And in some districts of Abyssinia — in parts 
of which the sham fight (though in a disintegrated form) is still 
kept up both after the wedding and before it — it was proper 
that the bridegroom should carry the bride on his shoulders the 
whole way from her house to his own (Bruce's Travels. Vol. VII., 
p. 67. 1804). In this last example, too, if the distance was 
great, it sufficed to carry the bride entirely round her own house, 
which shows us the form, as it were, in process of dwindling, 
under the influence of convenience. Such cases as this would 
assure us as to the meaning of similar acts in other cases, were 
that doubtful ; would show us, for example, why the Bedouin 
must force his bride to enter his tent (Burckhardt's Notes. 
Vol. I., p. 108. 1830) ; why, in Egypt, when the bride arrives at 
the bridegroom's door, he issues forth, " suddenly clasps her 
in his arms, as if by violence, and runs off with her as a prize " 
into the house. (Burckhardt, Arabic Froverhs. P. 116. 1830.) 
In all such cases what is done is analogous to what is prescribed 
to the Hindoos in the Sutras. At a vital stage of the marriage 
ceremony a strong man and the bridegroom forcibly drew the 
bride and made her sit down on a red ox-skin ; and this was 
one of the essential ceremonies in the constitution of the 
Hindoo marriage. 

In many cases the bride is required to show reluctance to 
enter her new home. An instance has occurred to us among 
the Slavs, in which a pretence was made of dragging her in, 
and she was ultimately bribed into entering. Cases have also 


been noticed in which she had to make some pretence of hiding 
herself. In many parts of Italy, Gubernatis tells us, the bride, 
on the wedding-day, has still to go through a ceremony of 
weeping — and the same has been noted in many other places. 
Other forms — some of them much more marked than that — in 
which the symbol of capture still appears in modern Italy, have 
been noted by Signer de Gubernatis {Storia comparata degli usi 
miziale in Italia e presso gli altri popoli Indo-Europei. MUan. 
1869.) The pretence of tearing the bride from the arms of her 
mother, which occurred among the plebeians at Rome, is men- 
tioned by him as being marriage custom in Sardinia, and also 
at Casalvieri. 



We have seen (pp. 42, 43) that, in the code of Menu, one of the 
eight legal forms of the marriage ceremony was that by capture 
de facto, and called Racshasa, and that this marriage was per- 
mitted to the military class. It is curious that the name of this 
species of marriage should be that of a race of beings — the 
Rakshasas — whom we find playing an important part, and that 
connected with a legend of a capture, in the mythic history of 
the Hiadoos. The story of the Ramayana may be said to be 
that of the carrying off of Rama's wife, Sita, by the Rakshasa, 
Ravana, and of the consequent war carried on by Rama against 
the Rakshasas, ending in their defeat and the recovery of Sita. 
(See Williams's Indian Epic Poetry. Pp. 74-76.) Wilson (India 
Three Thousand Years Ago. P. 20. Bombay, 1858) speaks of 
the Rakshasas as "' a people, often alluded to, from whom the 
Aryans suffered much, and who, by then* descendants, were 
transferred in idea to the most distant south, and treated by 
them as a race of mythical giants." He ranks them with the 
Dasyus, TJgras, Pishachas, and Asuras, as indigenous barbarian 
races or tribes, which had to be overcome before the Aryans 
could effect a settlement in part of Hindustan. Lassen takes 
the same view. " The Bamayana," he says (Lassen, Vol. I., 
p. 535 ; we quote from Muir's Sanscrit Texts, Vol. II., p. 425), 
" contains the narrative of the first attempt of the Aryans to 


extend themselves to the south by conquest ; but it presupposes 
the peaceable extension of Brahmanical missions in the same 
direction as having taken place still earlier. . . . The Rakshasas, 
who are represented as disturbing the sacrifices and devouring 
the priests, signify here, as often elsewhere, merely the savage 
tribes which placed themselves in hostile opposition to the 
Brahmanical institutions. The only other actors who appear 
in the legend, in addition to these inhabitants, are the monkeys, 
which ally themselves to Rama and render him assistance. 
This can only mean that, when the Aryan Kshatriyas first 
m.ade hostile incursions into the south, they were aided by 
another portion of the indigenous tribes." Dr. Muir can find 
no authority for saying that the word Rakshasa was originally 
the name of a tribe. At the same time {Texts, Vol. II., p. 434), 
he inclines to hold the descriptions we have of them as having 
more probably originated in hostile contact with the savages of 
the south, than as the simple ofifspring of the poet's imagination. 
He notices {Texts, Vol. II., p. 426) that, even in the Vedic 
period, the Rakshasas " had been magnified into demons and 
giants by the poetical and superstitious imaginations of the 
early (Aryan) bards." He quotes from the BamayaTia a passage 
which represents them as cannibals — feeding on blood, men- 
devouring, changing their shapes, &c. ; and another, in which 
they are described as " of fearful swiftness and unyielding in 
battle ; " while Ravana, the most terrible of all the Rakshasas, 
is stigmatised as a " destroyer of religious duties, and ravisher 
of the wives of others." Dr. Muir adds, that the description of 
the Rakshasas in the Bamayana " corresponds in many respects 
with the epithets applied to the same class of beings (whether 
we take them for men or for demons) who are so often alluded 
to in the Big Veda," and that it is quite possible that the author 
of the Bamayana may have borrowed therefrom many of the 
traits which he ascribes to the Rakshasas. 

But how came the name of a legal mode of marriage to be 
that of such a race of beings ? The only answer that we can 
make is a surmise — viz., that while the system of capture had 
not as yet died out among the Kshatriyas, or warrior caste of 
the Aryans, it was perfect among the races to which the name 
Rakshasas was applied ; and that what was their system gave 
its designation to the exceptional, although permitted, marriage 
by capture among the Kshatriyas. This is the more probable, 
since, so far as we can ascertain, there is nothing in the name — 
Rakshasa — itself descriptive of the mode of marriage. 


From another point of view, it may be observed that the 
Rakshasas hold nearly the same place in Hindu tradition that 
giants, ogres, and trolls occupy in Scandinavian and Celtic 
legends. They are supernatural beings — robbers and plunderers 
of human habitations — men-devourers and women-stealers. The 
giants and ogres of the north share the characteristics of 
Ravana. The cruel monsters are always carrying off kings' 
daughters. As Rama's exploits culminate in the recovery of 
Sita, so the northern giant-slayer is crowned with the greatest 
glory when he has rescued the captive princesses and restored 
them in safety to the king's — their father's — palace. Are we 
to hold all such beings — giants, ogres, trolls, &c. — wherever 
they occur, as representing savage races, between whom and 
the peoples in whose legends they appear as supernatural 
beings there was chronic hostility? 



^ The scheme of the development of systems of 
kinship which I propound in Primitive Marriage, and 
the truth of which I propose to test in the case of the 
ancient Greeks, is briefly as follows : — (1) That the 
most ancient system of kinship in which the idea of 
blood-relationship was embodied was the system of 
kinship through females only ; (2) that in the advance 
from savagery this system was succeeded by a system 
which acknowledged kinship through males also, and 
which (3) in most cases passed into a system (agnation) 
which acknowledged kinship through males only ^ ; 'finally 
(4), that agnation broke down, and there was again 
kinship through females as well as through males, i, 
♦ I conceive that the causes of this progress — excepting 
the last step of it, which is undoubtedly the result of 
the growing influence of humane and equitable con- 
siderations — are to be found in the successive stages of 
the development of systems of marriage. ^ And I con- 
ceive that maxriage was at first unknown ; and that its 

' [ See note on p. 126.] 



earliest form was that species of polyandry which now 
prevails among the Nairs, in Malabar — to one wife 
several husbands, not necessarily related to one another. 
"When this was the form of marriage, there was no 
certainty of male parentage, and the idea of blood- 
relationship could only be developed into the system 
of kinship through females. There being no regular 
cohabitation of husbands and wives, families consisted 
of mothers and their offspring ; the headship of families 
was in mothers, and the right of succession thereto in 
daughters. What family property there was went 
ultimately to the daughters and their children, in whom 
the family was prolonged ; a man's heirs were his 
brothers, in order of age, and, after them, his sisters' 
children. The consolidation of this primitive family 
system led to the shifting of the form of marriage from 
the Nair (in many cases through the British) to the 
Tibetan species of polyandry — the sons of a house 
taking a wife between them into the family o£ their 
mother. This change, while it left fatherhood un- 
certain, destroyed uncertainty as to the paternal blood 
in children, all the possible fathers being of the same 
blood. It thus introduced kinship through males. It 
involved the breaking up of the primitive form of the 
family, and led in time to the transference of the 
government from the mother to the eldest male of the 
family. The supremacy of women depended on non- 
cohabitation with their husbands ; its overthrow was 
the necessary consequence of cohabitation. The family, 
as I have said, was originally prolonged in the children 


of the daughters ; the sons' wives were in other houses, 
the continuers of other families. But now the daughters 
passed as wives into foreign houses, and the sons found 
representatives of their family in their own children. 
The headship of the family could thus no longer 
descend from mother to daughter ; aiid it was lost to 
women, though, in virtue of their having once possessed 
it, they would long retain a high position, and exercise 
much of that authority amongst men which had been 
assigned to them by the earlier system. The males, 
therefore, took the upper hand, and among them the 
first place was naturally assigned to the eldest. The 
first in age and authority, the first to marry, and fre- 
quently a father before his brothers reached maturity, 
it came to be feigned that all the children were his, and 
in time he assumed many of the powers of a pater- 
familias. The headship of the family now devolved 
from brother to brother, and failing brothers, on the 
eldest son of the brotherhood. Then, a practice of 
monandry arising, the younger brothers made separate 
marriages, and Tibetan polyandry died out, leaving 
behind it the Levirate — the obligation on brothers to 
marry in turn the widow of a brother deceased, which 
will be familiar to the reader as having existed among 
the Jews.' The Levirate next died out, as being 
opposed to ideas of propriety derived from the practice 
of monandry. And thus the family slowly assumed 
either the form to which we are accustomed, or that 
which it had in Rome. It is unnecessary for my 
1 [See note at p. 109.] 


purpose to say anything here of the causes of the 
growth of agnation. The changes in the form of the 
family would, of course, in every case be gradual, 
and not be effected throughout the whole of any 
community at once. 

This theory is supported by a very considerable 
amount of evidence, of which it is impossible in this 
place to give even a summary. As regards the initial 
stage of the progress which it declares, I may, however, 
state, that polyandry has been traced at points all over 
the world, both ancient and modern ; and that, in most 
cases, there has been found the system of kinship 
through females only, or traces of that system. That 
system is found to prevail amongst the great majority 
of existing rude races, with not a few of which the 
primitive form of the family is still preserved. And, 
lastly, traces or traditions of polyandry, and of the 
system of kinship through females only, have been 
found in the records of aU the historical races. What 
I now propose is, to see whether a somewhat minute 
examination of the history of ancient Greece wiU yield 
evidence for or against the theory. 

If the reader wiU. look back at the scheme of the 
development of systems of kinship given at the outset, 
he will see that the phenomena of kinship in the second 
and in the fourth stages of the progress must be the 
same ; that there must be correspondences between the 
phases of transition from the second to the third, and 
from the third to the fourth stages of the progress ; and 
that where the phenomena of kinship exhibited in any 


period may belong to the second or to the fourth, or to 
a phase of transition from the former, or to the latter, 
we must examine the periods antecedent and subsequent 
to it, in order to ascertain to which stage the phenomena 
really belong. 

I propose then, firstly, to inquire into the state of 
Greek kinship as it appears in the Homeric poems ; 
secondly, to glance at the history of kinship in post- 
Homeric Greece ; and, thirdly, to see what light can 
be thrown on its pre-Homeric history by a study of 
Greek traditions, and of the congeners of the Greeks, 

I. In no respect has life in the Homeric times so 
modern an aspect as in regard to the position of 
"wedded wives." The number of the wives acquired 
by capture, and the frequent mention made of women 
either as the end or the cause of war, remind us that 
there is something peculiar in the position of women, 
and even in the relation of the " wedded wife " to her 
lord. But for this, the general description of the 
married state might suggest to us the wedded life of 
our own fathers and mothers. 

The position and fortune of the wedded wife are 
usually equal, sometimes superior, to those of her 
husband. Not unfrequently he owes to her his rank 
and wealth ; always she possesses a dignified place 
and much influence. It is needless to cite examples 
of this. The poet often assumes a perfectly cliivalrous 
tone in alluding to the wives of his heroes. 

In Homer we find acknowledgment of the blood-ties 
through both the father and the mother. There is not 


a hint in the poems of the relationship between mother 
and child being less sacred or complete than that be- 
tween father and child. On the contrary, in several 
passages, as I shall show, that relationship is represented 
as the more sacred of the two. And it is certainly 
always so depicted, where it is depicted at all, as to 
exclude the idea that it was not perceived to be a blood - 
relationship. Anticleia's grief for the absent Ulysses, 
and the meeting with her shade in Hades, are perfect 
pictures of filial and motherly tenderness. It would be 
hard for any one to read them, and imagine that in an 
age when blood-ties were at all thought of, the tie of 
blood was wanting to complete the bond between that 
mother and son. 

Homer prefers the father in tracing genealogies, 
without denying the mother her place. On the other 
hand, it is clear that the Greeks had not been long 
accustomed to pedigrees traced through fathers. Few 
of the Homeric genealogies ascend many steps till they 
terminate in an unknown or divine father. Had pediv 
grees through fathers been old inheritances of the noble 
families which figure in the Troica, the divine parent- 
ages, whatever else besides uncertainty of fatherhood 
they may iniply, could not possibly have been either so 
numerous or so commonly credited. 

1. I instance the pleading of Lycaon in the Uiad, as 
containing proof of kinship through the mother, and 
proof that the tie through the father did not, in the 
same degree, infer the rights and obligations of kinship. 
This Lycaon was a son of Priam, by Laothoe, daughter 


of Altes, King of the Leleges. She was one of Priam's 
numerous " wedded wives," and had by him two sons, 
Lycaon and Polydorus, the latter already slain by 
AchiUes, who had come forth to avenge the death of 
Patroclus, his friend and kinsman.^ 

Lycaon, being assailed by AchiUes, begs for his life,, 
his main plea being that he is not related to Hector on 
the mother's side ; 

*AXXo 8e TOt epeo), crii 8' ivX ffipfcrl ySoAAeo crgcri, 
M^ /H£ KT€iv', eirel ov)( o/toyoorptos E/cTopos eip.i 
"Os TOt iraipov hrtt^vev ivTjm re Kparepov tc, 

" Yet I'll say 
This to thee, and cast it thou in heart ; 
Do not slay me, since not from the same womb 
Am I as Hector is, who killed thy friend. 
At once both kind and brave." ^ 

The appeal is to the well-known law of blood-feud, 
for though the assault takes place in battle, it is made 
in the thirst for vengeance. What, then, is the meaning 
and effect of the appeal ? Is it this : — " Hector and 
Hector's kindred are alone amenable to your vengeance, 
for it was Hector who slew your friend. I am neither 
kith nor kin of Hector. True, we have, as you know, 
the same father. But I put it to you, what does that 
matter ? He is not my brother uterine (ofioydaTpios), 

1 The friendship of Achilles and Patroclus overshadows their 
affinity. But according to tradition the affinity was undoubted, 
^acus and Meroetius were brothers uterine; — sons of ^gina ; and 
the former was the father of Peleus, the latter of Patroclus. 

2 The translations of the Homeric passages are all from 


my relative througli the mother " ? At least, it implies 
that being a brother by the same father did not mark 
him out one of those specially liable to be slain as a 
relative of the wrong-doer. The pleading was ineffectual, 
but it remained unanswered save by the sword. " Patro- 
clus has died. I too, the magnificent Achilles, must 
soon die. You had as weU go, my friend. So there." 
And the keen sword smote at the collar-bone beside the 
neck. AchiUes was avenging the death of a dear friend 
as well as a kinsman ; and the limitations imposed by 
the law of blood-feud^ appealed to by Lycaon, were 
powerless to restrain him. Should it be thought that 
the inference made from this case is too large, it must 
at any rate be allowed that the passage proves — (l) that 
tbe blood connection between the mother and son was 
fuUy acknowledged ; (2) that the connection through 
the father and mother made a closer kinship than that 
through the father only, which would not have been the 
case had agnation been established. And as it is obvious 
that Lycaon could not have urged his plea had he and 
Hector been uterine brothers, even had they been sons 
of different fathers, it becomes probable (3) that the 
blood-tie through the mother alone was practically, at 
this time, a stronger one than that through the father 

Further on, Priam speculates as to the fate of Lycaon 
and Polydorus. " If they yet live captive with the 
Greeks," he says, " then surely we shall ransom them 
with brass and gold ; for the money is in the house, as 
th« aged Altes gave abundance with his daughter." 


There is here a further note of relationship between 
mother and child. The mother's wealth was specially 
applicable for ransoming her sons. We may infer -^at 
in the household of the polygynous Priam, the children 
of a wife, whatever other rights of inheritance they had, 
were heirs to her wealth. 

It may be said that Lycaon's plea refers solely to a 
state of feeling prevailing on the Asiatic side, and 
peculiar to a people who practised polygyny. But if 
it was of no force from Homer's point of view, he either 
would not have stated it, or he would have made 
AchiUes meet it with an answer. The reply of Achilles 
is irrelevant, being substantially what I have stated, 
with the addition that he had made up his mind to 
spare no child of Priam. It must be assumed that the 
plea appeared of force to Homer's auditors, and that 
could only be through their knowing what a difference 
the want of a perfect kinship should have made. On 
the Greek side, as weU as on the Asiatic, there was, 
owing to the system of " captive wives," abundance of 
room for the distinction between the paternal and 
maternal tie, and for its practical recognition in cases 
of blood-feud.^ That Lycaon is presumably of strictly 

* I know no better illustration of the incompleteness of kinship 
through the father, at the stage of development in which I conceive 
the Homeric Greeks to have been, than is afforded by the story of 
Amnon and Tamar, in the Book of Samuel. Tamar was Amnon's 
half-sister by the same father ; yet they were marriageable. 2 Sam. 
xii._13-: " Speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from 
thee." And see v. 16. Her uterine brother Absalom revenged 
the rape of Tamar by slaying Amnon. He then fled to the kindred 


Greek ancestry on both sides of his parentage, is a fact 
on which I shall not rest an argument. 

2. In the Iliad we have evidence of the existence of 
kinship through the mother in the story of Tlepolemus, 
the Ehodian leader, son of Hercules and Astyoche. This 
man, having inadvertently slain his grand-uncle Licym- 
nius, the brother of Alcmene, mother of Hercules, had 
to flee, "for the other sons, and grandsons too, of mighty 
Herakles had threatened him." Not threatened to de- 
liver him up to the kindred of Licymnius, but to avenge 
the death. Now, what had they to do with the matter 
as avengers ? Nothing except on the footing that they 
were of the kindred of Licymnius ; for, by old law, the 
right of vengeance belonged to the kindred of the slain. 
They were therefore (being of the kin of Hercules) of 
the kindred of Alcmene and of her brother Licymnius. 
That is, some Hellenes — for this is a strictly Hellenic 
story^recognized the blood-tie through the mother as 
creating the right and obligation of the blood-feud. — 
Iliad, ii. 656, et seq. 

3. Helen, when she surveys the warriors from the 
wall, looks for, but cannot see, Castor and Pollux — 

auTOKacnyciyTco, Ttti fi,oi /Ata ycivaro firpirjp. 

" Mine own brethren, 
Whom both, as also me, one mother bare." 

of his mother, viz. to the court of Talmai, King of Geshur. (2 Sam. 
iii. 3, and xiii. 37.) In Primitive Marriage, p. 61, I point out how 
the occurrence of cases of this sort among the aborigines of Australia 
is one of the chief impediments in the way of the homogeneity of 
the groups being destroyed. 


She cannot beb'eve that they have not accompanied the 
Greeks ; but if they have not, it must be because of the 
shame and blame resting on her, their sister. There is 
a legend which connects the three through a common 
father, Zeus ; but that is not alluded to : Homer 
represents her thoughts as wholly fixed on their com- 
mon mother. 

A similar passage occurs in the nineteenth book of 
the Iliad. Briseis is represented as bewailing, over the 
dead Patroclus, the accumulated woes which she has had 
to sufi'er — the loss of her husbands and of " three be- 
loved brethren too (one mother bare us)." 

Tpeis re KacrfyvijTovs, tovs fwi jxla yelvaro fi/qrrjp. 

This would scarcely have been repeated if the poet did 
not feel its power to stir tender chords in the hearts of 
his auditors. He always marks the distinction of /coo-Zy- 
vqios KOI oirarpos and ofioyda-rpios as an important one. 
And he is not content with simply denoting the uterine 
tie. The verse swells, as with feeling, in referring to it. 
On the other hand, the word oiruTpos, which he uses 
twice, is both times used abruptly, as if to state a fact 
unconnected, or at least not specially connected, with 
the feelings. 

A passage in the twenty-fourth book puts it beyond 
dispute that Homer attaches superior importance to the 
tie through the mother. Apollo, addressing the gods in 
favour of granting burial to Hector, strongly disapproves 
the savage manner in which Achilles has treated the 
body. There is usually an end, he urges, of tears and 


wailing for human losses, even when they are the 
greatest, as when one loses — 

xfjlXripov SXKov . . . 
He KafriyvrjTov ofnoydarpiov, rje Koi viov. 

" One right dear, 
Either a brother born of self-same womb, 
Or even a son." 

Here a brother " of the self-same womb," and a son, 
have the foremost place among dear relations. Why 
not a brother — ovarpos — of the same sire ? Clearly 
because such brothers were not so closely and tenderly 
connected. That is, we must conclude that Homer 
regarded the blood-tie through the mother as closer 
and dearer than that through the father.^ 

4. The beggar Arnaeus got his name through his 
mother. Was it customary among the lower classes to 
name the children after the mother ? Have we a hint 
of such a custom among the higher classes in the 
following passage ? — 

" Then in their palace 
Anon the father and the lady mother 
Did call their child ' Alcyone ' for surname ; 

' Iliad, iii. 235 ; xix. 290 et seg. ; xi. 257 ; xii. 371 ; xxiv. 45. In 
Odyssey, iv. 224, Homer places in the same category sorrow for a 
mother, father, brother, or son— naming the mother first. One is 
reminded by the passages cited in the text of the special love and 
tenderness felt by Joseph for his brother Benjamin, . " his mother's 
son " : " His bowels did yearn upon his brother, and he sought 
where to weep, and entered into his chamber and wept there." 
How cold by comparison was his feeling for his brothers-german ! — 
Gen. xliii. 29. 


Because, forsooth, her mother had the fate 
Of mournful Alcyon, and like her did weep 
When the far-darting king, Apollo Phoebus, 
Carried her daughter off." 

This is from the tale of Meleager, and therefore very 
old. We shall find that the custom of naming children 
after the mother prevailed among the Lycians; and shall 
be able to show that it anciently prevailed among many 
of the Greek tribes. — Odyssey, xviii. 5 ; Iliad, ix. 556, 
et seq. 

5. In the sixth book of the Iliad we have the gene- 
alogies of Glaucus and Sarpedon. Sisyphus begets 
Glaucus, who begets BeUerophon, who marries the 
daughter of Proetus, King of Lycia, and by her begets 
Isander (who is slain), Hippolochus, and Laodameia, 
Then Hippolochus begets Glaucus ; and Laodameia, 
embraced by Zeus, brings forth Sarpedon. Sarpedon 
is the leader of the Lycian allies, and Glaucus is but one 
of his lieutenants ! The daughter's son is the chief, and 
the agnate the inferior. I shall recur to this when I 
come to treat of the Lycians. It points to a system of 
succession, through females, which prevails among nearly 
all rude races, and which, we shall find, continued to be 
in full force among the Lycians long after the Homeric 
period. — Iliad, vi. 150 — 210. 

Here, meantime, I suspend the examination of the 
poems. I think I have succeeded in showing that Homer 
had no idea of there being no affinity between mother 
and child ; that, on the contrary, he regarded uterine 


connectious generally as especially close and tender. I 
have shown that there are traditions in the poems which 
prove that among some Hellenes affinity through the 
mother founded the blood-feud, and gave rights of 
succession ; that among the " Pelasgi," and possibly 
Hellenes in Troy and Lycia, the tie through the mother 
was superior to that through the father, and that the 
latter was not regarded as a perfect kinship. 

I may say here that did we know that my scheme of 
the normal development of systems of kinship was 
correct, and were the question this, — Finding in Homer's 
time kinship through mothers as well as fathers, was the 
stage of advancement one of departure from the system 
of kinship througli females only, or of advance from 
agnation ? — the question might be answered without 
further inquiry. I do not find a single trace of agnation 
— a single legend which gives a hint that it ever existed. 
I find some hints of kinship through the mother having 
been the only kinship. I find the whole circumstances 
of the people barbarous. The heroes are mag- 
nificently accoutred and armed ; but their battles, 
and even those of the gods, tend to degenerate 
into stone-bickers. Their funeral orgies are those 
of the Viti and some Scythic peoples mentioned by 
Herodotus. Achilles, the hero of their imagination, is 
a sulky and implacable savage ; Ulysses, their model 
wise man, is cunning, treacherous, and profligate. It 
would not be believed that this people had reached a 
point which the Eomans only reached late in their 
history through the persistent efforts of a line of iUus- 


trious praetors. The question is not, however, what I 
have now stated. It is the much more important and 
diflBcult one whether I can show, to any high degree of 
probability, that the Greeks came through the earlier 
stages specified in my scheme. 

II. What, then, is the post-Homeric history of kin- 
ship in Greece 1 And does it supply an argument in 
favour of the view that the Homeric Greeks were ad- 
vancing from the system of kinship through females only 
to the more modern system of agnation ? 

It can be shown that in post-Homeric Greece there 
grew up an opinion unfavourable to the idea of kinship 
through the mother. The law, perhaps, never re- 
cognized agnation ; but it made a close approach to 
doing so. 

1. By Solon's time the next of kin on the father's 
side, to the fourth degree, succeeded before any right of 
succession {ah intestato) opened to the kindred of the 
mother ; and, on both sides of the house, males and the 
children of males, cut out females and their children 
even of a nearer degree. The law provided that the 
estate of one dying childless and intestate should only 
pass to the next of kin on the mother's side, " si nulli 
supersint paterni proximi ad sobrinorum usque filios." 
This cannot be said to have been very unfriendly to the 
maternal relatives. I find, however, that by the time of 
Isseus, in this field the greatest of Athenian jurists, the 
law had so far changed, that Isseus denies a mother any 
place among the heirs of her son. In the celebrated 
suit about the succession of Hagnia it appears that the 



mother of Hagnia claimed the succession (1) " tanquam 
cognata," she being the sister of his cousin Stratius. 
Being defeated in this claim, her advisers next demanded 
the estate for her (2) "tanquam matri filii." In this 
claim also she was defeated, on the ground, as Isaeus 
states, that a mother had to her son no affinity carrying 
any legal right. M.tjTepa elvai ovyyevitnaTov fiXv r}v rrj 
<f>vffei TravTaJv, ev Sf Tacs dyx^ia-reiais ofioXoyovfievojs oik 
'ia-Tiv. It follows, of course, a fortiori, that none of her 
kindred — no one on the maternal side of the house — 
could have any right of inheritance. This, practically, 
is agnation. Bunsen combats the position taken up by 
Isseus, and explains the lady's failure on other grounds. 
Isseus is, however, the greater authority ; and Bunsen's 
argument, as I read it, turns chiefly on Solon's law, 
without niaking allowance for the change in the law in 
the interval between Solon and the suit. — Leges Atticse 
(S. Petiti, 1741), vol. iii. p. 51 ; tit. vi. 6'; Bunsen de 
Jure hsered. Athen., p. 23 ; Isseus, ed. Schomann, 
p. 145. 

2. But whether the opinion that there was no 
affinity between mother and child was ever realized in 
Greek law or not, there is no doubt that such an opinion 
came to be current in later Greece, as a new view, and 
was the subject of controversy, I have said there is no 
hint of such an opinion in Homer. Neither is there in 
Hesiod.' The view (which is stated in the Orestes of 

* Is Hesiod to be regarded as serious when he speaks of the 
general uncertainty of male parentage in his own, " the fifth age " 1 
Works and Bays, 182. 


Euripides) receives, so far as I know, its earliest and 
beat expression in the Eumenides of ^schylus, who 
distinctly represents it as a new doctrine. 

The Eumenides exhibits kinship through the mother 
surviving as a subject of controversy. The plea which 
succeeds in the trial of Orestes is that he was not of kin 
to his mother Clytemnestra. Oa the other hand, success 
is only attained after much argument. The jury are 
equally divided on the plea, and Orestes gains his cause 
by the casting vote of Athene. 

The basis of the suit is the claim of the Erinnyes 
to the right of punishing matricides. This was their 
function, by special ordination, as representing a time 
when kinship through the mother was unquestioned. 
The claim is disputed. Would they, asks Orestes, drive 
from his home the slayer of a wife that had killed her 
husband ? The Erinnyes answer — 

" That would not be kindred blood shed by the hand of a relation." 

"What," asks Orestes — 

" Do you call me related by blood to my mother ? " 

On this they open upon him with reproaches. Would 
you disown so dear a relationship ? Did she not bear 
thee, murderer, in her womb ? They are shocked at his 
impiety ; and their horror increases on discovering that 
he is not alone in holding the new view — that it is 
adopted by the gods. 

Apollo is clear as to the law • of Zeus respecting 
kinship. " The bearer of the so-called offspring," he 

p 2 


contends, " is not the mother of it, but only the nurse 
of the newly-conceived foetus. It is the male who is 
the author of its being ; while she, as a stranger, for a 
stranger preserves the young plant for those for whom 
the god has not blighted it in the bud. And I wiU 
show you a proof of this assertion ; one may become a 
father without a mother. There stands by a witness of 
this in the daughter of Olympian Zeus, who was not 
even nursed [much less engendered or begotten] in the 
darkness of the womb." Pallas accepts this view of 
the matter, and records her vote in favour of Orestes. 

On judgment being pronounced against them, the 
Erinnyes are plunged in despair 

'lo) 6^01 veiirepoi, TraXaiovi vo/xovi 
K^aOnnrd.(ra(r0€, kolk ^epcSc fiXtcrde fi.ov. 

" Ye younger gods, ye have over-ridden the old laws, and have 
taken him out of my hands." 

The lamentation and wail of dishonour are after- 
wards repeated with outcries which farther fix the 
attention on the fact that the new doctrine was sub- 
versive of old beliefs. 

" That I should be treated thus ! alas ; T of the ancient views, 
and should have an abode in the land, forsooth, unhonoured and 
detested I Thereat I breathe out my fury and full resentment." 

Now, were the views of kinship found in this play 
those which prevailed in the time of iEschylus, or those 


which, as he imagined, prevailed iu the time of 
Orestes ? ^ 

It is most unlikely that the poet would have com- 
posed a drama in which were to be exhibited in conflict 
two sets of opinions, both archaic, and with neither of 
which his auditors might have any sympathy. Thus I 
think the idea is excluded that the play is an attempt 
to reflect the spirit of the age of Orestes. Moreover, 
Orestes is pre-Homeric, and neither in Homer's time, 
nor presumably before it, since we have no trace of it 
in the Homeric or Hesiodic poems, had the Greek mind 
thought of agnation. If, then, the new views did not 
prevail in the time of ^schylus himself, they were yet 
certainly post-Homeric ; and, assuming this, it is im- 
material to my argument whether ^schylus applied to 

^ The solemn adjudication in the Eunienides that there is no 
kinship between mother and child, and the acquittal on that ground 
of Orestes, seem to me in remarkable contrast to the Homeric 
account of Epicaste {Odyss. xi. 270), — 

" Next beauteous Epicaste, 
Mother of CEdipus, I saw ; a deed 
Heinous did she, through witlessness of mind. 
To her own sou got married ; his own father 
Slew he in fight and spoiled, and her he married." 

The gods made known the matter far and wide among mankind. 
Epicaste hanged herself and left behind for CEdipus " full many a 
woe, as heavy indeed as through a mother's curse the avenging 
furies e'er bring to pass." In the Eumenides the furies have 
nothing to do with matricides, there being no blood-relationship 
between mother and chUd. Who can doubt but that in the mind 
of Homer the whole horror came out of the closeness, as he con- 
ceived it, of that as a blood-relationship. 


the story of Orestes an opinion current in his own day, 
or one that had prevailed so recently as to be sufficiently 
familiar to allow it to be made the pivot of a dramatic 
plot. I would incline, however, to think, were there no 
other means of settling the matter, that the only satis- 
factory explanation which can be given of the almost 
balanced state of contrary opinions in the Eumenides is, 
that it reflects the state of popular feeling and belief 
respecting kinship in the time of ^schylus himself. 

We know that the new view was adopted by several 
philosophers who (speaking roughly) were the con- 
temporaries or immediate successors of ^schylus. That 
the act of generation, the begetting, was whoUy the 
father's, and that the mere nutrition was the mother's, 
is said to have been the opinion of Pythagoras and 
Plato. Plutarch, in one place, represents these philo- 
sophers as holding da-do/iarov fjiev elvai rrjv Svvafjiiv tov 
a-irepfiaTos (like mind on its commencement), which 
transforms aw/iuTiKriv St t^^v vXrjv supplied by the mother ; 
and, in another place, in speaking of that view of the 
Cosmos which conceives it to be compounded of two 
factors, mind and matter, he says, Plato calls mind 
the conception, idea, model, and father ; and matter 
the mother, nurse, or seat and region capable of births. 
It would probably be found that Greek speculation went 
no farther than to give the father the first and the 
mother a subordinate place in the act of generation, and 
correspondingly to elevate the father's relation to the 
children and depress that of the mother. Chrysippus, 
however, is said to have held the extreme view pro- 


pounded by Apollo in the Eumenides. " The foetus is 
nourished in the womb like a plant ; but being born, is 
refrigerated and hardened by the air, and its spirit being 
changed it becomes an animal." This constitutes the 
mother the mere nurse of her child, just as a field is of 
the seed sown in it. — Plutarch de Plac. Phil. 5, 4 ; De 
Is. et Os. 56 (Plut. Oper. Lips. 1778, vol. vii. 471) ; Be 
Stoic. Rejpug. Id. vol. x. 350. 

That such views prevailed among the thinkers in or 
about the time of ^schylus — to whose time also Isaeus 
who denies the right of inheritance to the mother's side, 
may be referred — favours my opinion that the Eume- 
nides reflects the feeling of the author's own day. And 
whoever adopts that opinion must agree with me in 
holding that we have proof in that drama, read in con- 
nection with the Homeric poems, that kinship through 
the mother had been in Homer's time undisputed among 
the Greeks, and had come, by the time of iEschylus, to 
be a subject of controversy, and to a great extent, if 
not wholly, to be ignored. 

3. We have a confirmation of this in the change 
which took place in the status of women in post- 
Homeric Greece. 

Where the ruder forms of the family system prevail, 
the position of women is necessarily very high. The 
truth of this might be illustrated by numerous in- 
stances. And their position is gradually lowered as 
those changes take place which oust them from the 
headship of families, and deprive connections through 
them of importance. They first lose the headship of 


families ; next they are denied equality ; and, lastly, on 
agnation being firmly established, tliey sink almost to 
the level of slaves. 

I have already had occasion to notice the high 
position of women in the Homeric age. "We find," 
says Mr. Gladstone, " in Homer the fulness of the 
moral and intelligent being alike consummate, ahke 
acknowledged on the one side and the other [i.e. on 
the female and on the male]. The conversation of 
Hector and Andromache in the sixth Iliad, of Ulysses 
and Penelope in the twenty-third Odyssey, the position 
of Arete at the court of Alcinous, and that of Helen 
in the palace of Menelaus, all teU one and the same 
tale." "Women in the Homeric age," says Mitford, 
" enjojT-ed more freedom, and communicated more in 
business and amusement among men, than in after ages 
has been usual in those Eastern countries; far more 
than at Athens in the flourishing times of the common- 
wealth. Equally, indeed^ Homer's eloquent eulogies 
and Hesiod's severe sarcasms prove women to have 
been, in their days, important members of society." 

It is notorious that in later Greece all this was 
changed. In Sparta alone, where the old customs were 
best preserved, did the women retain anything of their . 
old dignity and influence.^ Everywhere else they were 

^ " Spartan mothers," says Miiller, " preserved a power over 
their sons when arrived at manhood, of which we find no trace in 
the rest of Greece." — The Dorians, Book iv. chap. v. § 1. Again 
he says (Ibid. § 5) that the Dorians generally, and more at Sparta 
than elsewhere, preserved most rigidly and represented most truly 


degraded. At Athens they were confiued to home, and 
their liberties restricted in a fashion quite Oriental. 
Even the idea of marriage, as Mr. Gladstone observes, 
was, in post-Homeric Greece, greatly lowered. " The very 
name of yafios, with its kindred words, underwent a 
change of sense, and was made applicable to such a re- 
lation as that established between the Greek chieftains 
in the war of Troy and their captives, in cases where 
they had wives already." Elsewhere he observes : "In 
truth, it would seem not only as if before Christianity 
appeared, notwithstanding the advance of civilization, 
the idea and place of women were below what they 
should have been, but actually as if, with respect to 
all that was most essential, they sank with the lapse of 
time." — Studies on Homer, vol. ii. 517, 518. 

I claim this lowering of the position of women in 
post- Homeric Greece as evidence that the change in the 
popular feeling about kinship, which is proved to have 
taken place, took place in post-Homeric times. Looking 
at the degradation of women as an effect, we see that no 
causes could well have produced it, so long as relation- 
ships through women preserved their old importance. 
On the other hand, we can discern a sufficient cause for 
that degradation in the gradually-increasing prepon- 
derance of male kinship, and in the changes in 
the marriage system — of which anon — which made 

the customs of the ancient Greeks. We shall hereafter see that 
they preserved, among other things, much of the family and 
marriage systems to which the early influence of women was 


possible that preponderance. So that we have here a 
circumstance confirmatory of the conclusion at which 
we had previously arrived. 

On the whole, looking to the double kinship in 
Homer, and the hints he furnishes of the former supe- 
riority of female kinship ; to the high position of women 
in Homer, and their subsequent degradation consenta- 
neously with the appearance and growth of the principle 
of agnation, does it not appear probable that in the 
Homeric times the Greeks had but just left behiad 
them the system of kinship through females only, along 
with all the other features of social and family life which 
the presence of that system impHes ? 

HI. Let us now see now far the conclusion at which 
I am pointing is confirmed by the traditions of the 
Greeks and a study of their congeners. 

Bachofen, in his Das Mutterrecht, goes over this 
field. He conceives that he has found proofs of "mother- 
right " — the primitive female government — not only in 
all the early Greek settlements, but in every branch of 
the Ijido-Germanic family. For my purpose it must 
suffice to glance at some facts respecting the ancient 
populations of Persia and Media, from which, according 
to some writers, the Greeks were derived, and to make 
a rapid examination of the customs and traditions of 
the Greeks themselves in a few of their principal 

We shall find that in Persia there was anciently 
general incestuous promiscuity. We shall find in 
ancient Media various forms of marriage, including 


polyandry, but no law of incest, and no conjugal 
fidelity. In Sparta we shall find monandry without 
conjugal fidelity, alongside of polyandry in the form in 
which it now prevails in Tibet ; in Troy, the Levirate ; 
and in Athens, sister-marriages and traces of the Levi- 
rate. Farther, we shall find among the Lycians, whose 
afiinity to the Greeks was so pronounced, the system of 
female Idnship prevailing down to the time of Herod- 
otus, and shall adduce evidence that that system — the 
result of promiscuity, or the lower polyandry — anciently 
prevailed in Attica, and in Crete, and in several other 
Greek settlements. It is quite consistent with my views 
that in aU these quarters monandry, and even the patria 
potestas, may have prevailed at points. What I main- 
tain is, that anciently in the Greek settlements these 
phenomena were exceptional. 

1. The incest of the ancient Persians is a familiar 
fact ; the evidence of it is reviewed at considerable 
length by Selden, and was a few years ago carefully 
sifted by a writer in the Fortnightly Review. They not 
only allowed the union of brother and sister of the fuU 
blood, but even of mother and son, and father and 
daughter ; and in some cases they required such unions 
for the production of persons qualified for religious 
offices. I know no account that can be given of such a 
total absence of restrictions on marriage, except that the 
Persian customs were those of savage hordes, that some- 
how (probably owing to their practice of polyandry) 
never became exogamous, and so never attained to the 
idea of incest. That Persian marriages were anciently 


polyandric, I conceive to be proved by their having the 
Levirate. The Medes had no better manners than the 
Persians. Strabo says they had marriage in various 
forms, including polyandry; but marriage meant little 
with them, if Xanthus is to be believed, that they had 
no law of incest, and freely interchanged their wives. 
If the Greeks were really offshoots of the poorer and 
hard-pressed portions of the hill-population of Media 
and Persia, we may believe that when they set out for 
Greece they were in bad training. And I am not aware 
that there was any race between them and their new 
home from whom they could learn much.^ 

2. What Xanthus says of the Medes, Xenophon 
says of the Lacedaemonians. They had no conjugal 
fidelity. A Spartan husband had no scruple in calling 
on a friend, or even a stranger, to be the father of his 

^ Seidell's Jms. Natur. chap. xi. art. " Consanguineous Mar- 
riages " ; Fortnightly Review, No. xii. p. 715 ; Kleker, Zendavesta, 
iii. p. 226 ; Strabo (Amsterdam, 1 707), ii. 798 ; Xanthus, apiid 
Rawlinson, Herod. Life, cxlviii. I have discussed in Primitive 
Marriage the connection between polyandry and exogamy, and 
shown how the former may prevent the rise of the latter. I have 
also discussed the connection between polyandry and the Levirate, 
and have, as I believe, shown good reason for holding that the 
latter is a relic of the former. The three well-marked stages of 
polyandry may respectively be termed the Nair, the British, and 
the Tibetan. In the British, or second of the three stages of poly- 
andry, fathers and sons usually had a wife in common, and no such 
idea had been formed as is conveyed by the word incest. The 
solidifying of such customs as prevailed in ancient Britain, and 
their perpetuation after marriage had become monandric, would 
be sufficient to explain the strange peculiarities of Persian and 
Median manners described above. 


children ; it was proper for a Spartan matron to be 
mistress in two houses. Nay, they had polyandry in 
the Tibetan form ; for we are told by Polybins that the 
brothers of a house often had one wife between them. 
This is interesting, as we thus see exhibited in Sparta, 
at one and the same time, promiscuity in its highest 
polyandric form, and lingering round a growing practice 
of monandry. — Xenophon, Rep. Laced. 1, 9; Polyb. 
Frag. ap. Maii Collect. Vet. Scriptt. vol. ii. p. 384 ; 
Grote's Greece, vol. ii. 520, 536, 556 ; MuUer's 
Dorians, book iii. ch. 10, § 3. 

It has been usual to throw discredit on the state- 
ment of Polybius about the Spartans, as on that of 
Csesar about the Britons, of Tacitus about the Finns, 
and of Strabo about the ancient Irish. But it wiU not 
do to put aside these statements as if those able 
ancients were men of no sense ; as if the military oflBcers 
and political agents of the Eoman Empire, for instance, 
were not as trustworthy authorities as our own officers 
and agents in India, from whom we know of such 
customs existing in our own day. As the statement of 
Polybius is in itself probable, considering all we know 
of the Lacedaemonians, we must accept it, and believe 
that the Spartans practised this form of polyandry. 
And as it is admitted that the Spartans longer than 
any other Greeks preserved the ancient customs of the 
Greeks, we are entitled to infer that this species of 
polyandry had prevailed as a form of marriage among 
the race at large. Even if we had not the statement of 
Polybius, I should have considered that we had evidence 


that the Spartans anciently practised polyandry, in that 
legend which represents Lycurgus as declining, on 
purpose to set an example to his countrymen, to marry 
his brother's widow, and so cut out from the succession 
his brother's son. This is a tradition of the decay of 
polyandry in the royal house of Sparta. It is a declina- 
ture of the rights and obligations of the Levir ; ^ for by 
the marriage, according to the story, Lycurgus would 
have legally succeeded to the throne, notwithstanding 
the appearance of a male child of his brother — a law of 
succession derived from polyandry. And I would have 
inferred that though polyandry began so early to die 
out in the upper ranks, yet, in all probability, it lingered 
into the historical period among the poorer folk, so that 
it might have been the subject of observation and 
record. And I believe Polybius the more readily that 
I had made these inferences before I knew of his 

3. In the legends of the house of Priam we have 
some instances of brothers succeeding to their brothers' 
widows, Helen, on the death of Paris, feU to his next 
brother, Deiphobus ; and Andromache, widow of 
Hector, became ultimately the wife of Hector's only 
surviving brother, Helenus. As to Helen, it is said the 
right of succession to her was the subject of dispute 
between Helenus and Deiphobus. She properly fell to 
the elder of the rivals. As the pleading of Lycaon 
assures us of the superiority of the tie through the 
mother on the Trojan side — a note of polyandry — we 
1 [See note at p. 109.] 


may the more readily believe that we have here a 
tradition of the Levirate.^ 

4. At Athens we have strong evidence of the system 
of female kinship, and therefore of some degree of 
promiscuity, in the sister-marriages permitted by law. 
A man might marry a sister by the same father, but not 
a sister by the same mother. 'E^tlvai, ras Ik 
iraTepwv aSe\(j)as {Leges AtticcB, lib. vi. t. i. rj). Assum- 
ing that the Greeks were anciently exogamous — i.e. 
forbidden to marry those who were counted to be of the 
same blood with themselves, we must accept this law as 
proof that in Attica there was kinship originally through 
the mother only. It represents the system of female 
kinship as regulating intermarriages after it had lost 
importance in regard to successions. But other Attic 
laws equally point out the ancient state of the Athenians. 
For example, there is Solon's provision for the case of an 
tiriKXrjpos that had married an old man. " Dotalis 
fcemina, si maritus, qui eam sibi jure vindicavit, coire 
non posset, cum mariti adgnatis concumbito " {Leg. Att. 
lib. vi. t. i. ty'). This is not the Levirate, but it some- 
what resembles it ; and it is identical with the provision 
in the code of Menu for the interference of an authorized 
" sapinda " to discharge the duties of the Levir where 
the Levir was incapable. The provision for securing 
progeny in either case remands us to a state of society 
for its origin in which polyandrous ideas of propriety 
must have prevailed. Such a thing could never be 
dreamed of in an age of monandry and conjugal fidelity. 
1 [As to this also, see note at p. 109.] 


5. Having now found promiscuity and polyandry in 
tliose districts from which the Greek races are believed 
to have been derived ; polyandry and traces of pro- 
miscuity in Sparta, where the ancient Greek customs are 
believed to have been best preserved ; and traces of 
polyandry in Troy and Attica, we might expect to find 
in the Greek legends numerous indications of the 
ancient supremacy of women, as well as of the system 
of kinship through females only. And we do so to an 
extent that is quite remarkable. Volumes might be 
filled with the minuter items of evidence.^ Let me 
here give a single example of the sort of facts which I 
have in view before proceeding to the evidence on which 
I mainly rely. I refer to the Homeric legend of 
Meleager, which, read in the light of tradition, shows 
that at one time, among some Hellenes, heirship was 
vested in the mother's kindred, and not in the father's. 
No evidence need be adduced to show that this legend 
is Hellenic. 

The legend of the Boar-hunt, and of the quarrel 
and war that rose out of it, is rapidly, and in some 
respects imperfectly, related in Homer. The purpose 
which Phoenix has in telling it is to induce Achilles to 
lay aside his wrath, by illustrating the dangers of over- 

^ Facts of the sort I have in view are to be found in abundance 
in Cyprus, the home of Aphrodite ; in Lemnos, celebrated for the 
cruelties of its women ; in the legends of Danaus and Atreus, and, 
indeed, in almost every Greek genealogy. They are to be found 
everywhere in connection with the Greek oracles and with religious 
rites. I need scarcely add that tho legends of the Amazons 
contribute their quota. 


indulgence in anger ; and this end is fully served, con- 
sistently witli some points of the story being left not a 
little obscure. The origin of the war, for instance, is 
thus described, immediately after the account of the 
ravages of the boar, and its slaughter by Meleager and 
his friends : — 

" And 'twas for sake of him, 
E'en for the boar's head and the bristly skin, 
The goddess brought about a mighty clamour, 
And war-cry 'twixt the lofty-souled ^tolians 
And the Curetes." 

How the clamour arose is not stated, but the cause 
of Meleager's wrath is explained. He was angry at 
heart against his mother Althaea, because of her 
imprecations : 

" Who invoked the Gods, indeed, in her deep grief 
At blood-shed of her brother ; and full oft 
The bounteous Earth, yea, smote she with her hands, 
Down sinking, knees to ground, and drenched with tears 
Was all her bosom, as she called on Hades 
And dread Persephoneia, to bring Death 
Upon her son," 

Thus Homer's account is that the war rose out of a 
dispute between the ^tolians and Curetes, as to the 
boar's head and bristles, and that Althaea had cursed 
Meleager because he had killed her brother ; but it is 
not part of the account that the brother of Althaea was 
killed at the hunt, or because he preferred a claim to 
the trophies of the chase. Phoenix, I may add, teUs 
the story as one of several " tales of the olden times," 


which might be made to illustrate his theme, and as 
being one which he remembers. 

'Mc/ toS« epyov cyui irdXai, otjri viav ye. 

" I do remember this, a matter of yore 
(Nothing of late, at least)." 

We may assume that Homer here made an old legend — 
old even in his time — serve his poetic purposes, and 
related it only so far as his purposes required. 

But all the post-Homeric accounts are agreed that 
Althaea's brothers were slain by Meleager at the hunt ; 
and from Hyginus we learn the cause of the quarrel. 
" When Meleager, having killed the boar, was for 
making over to Atalanta the chief spoils, his uncles on 
the mother's side took them away from her, asserting 
their right as next of kin, if Meleager declined to keep 
the prize to himself." Here then is the origia of the 
dispute. Meleager's maternal uncles denied his right to 
grant away the spoUs, and so extinguish their hope of 
succeeding to them. If he did not choose to keep the 
trophies which he had acquired by his prowess, they feU 
to those who would inherit them, supposing him to die. 
Seeing that Meleager had paternal relatives, this is a 
distinct tradition of a time when a man's heirs were 
on his mother's and not on his father's side of the 

What Hyginus relates is not a new or different 
version of the Homeric story, but an addition to it. It 
is in keeping with the Homeric account ; moreover it 


consists (as I hope to show) with the statement that the 
legend belonged to " the olden times " even when Homer 
sang. And it is certainly (as we have seen) an addition 
which could not have been made in the time of Hyginus, 
nor indeed in the post-Homeric period. We have seen 
that the farther we advance, leaving behind the Homeric 
stage, the more monstrous and incredible" would such a 
claim on the part of a mother's brothers have "appeared. 
We must accept the tradition, therefore, as evidencing a 
time when inheritances descended from a man to his 
sister's children, and when e converso a man's maternal 
uncles were among his nearest heirs. ^ 

1 II. ix. 525 et seq. ; Hyginus, Fab. 229 and 174; and see 
Grote's Greece, vol. i. 200. In parting with the story of Meleager 
and the boar-hunt, let me ask what is the meaning of the boar, and 
of the collection of the flower of Greece — the whole of its chivalry — 
to put him down ? It seems ridiculous that any mortal boar should 
cause such trouble and require an army of warriors to kill it ; that 
the victory over it should ever after rank among the proudest exploits 
of the nation. And what is meant by the oracle enjoining Adrastus 
to give his daughters in marriage, one to a boar, the other to a lion ; 
which was complied with by their marrying Tydeus and Polynices 
respectively ? What is meant by the relations of Pasiphae with a 
bull — the result the Minotaur ; by Jupiter in the form of a bull 
carrying ofE Europa ; by Phorbas attaining the supremacy in 
Rhodes by freeing it of snakes ; by the conversion in ^gina of 
the ants — [x.vpfji.y)Ki^ — into men, the Myrmidons ; by Cecrops being 
half a snake : by the stories of the dragon's teeth at Colchis and 
Thebes ; by the numerous horse names in Homer, and a score of 
such-like facts 1 Is it at all possible that, most anciently, there 
were among the Greeks tribes with totems, — Bull, Boar, and Lion 
tribes ; Snake, Ant, and Dragon tribes % — Here are a few names of 
Red Indian (American) tribes drawn from the fauna of their 
country — "Wolf, Bear, Snake, Deer, Snipe, Eagle," Hare, Rabbit, 

Q 2 


I now propose, first, to glance at some facts indica- 
tive of tlie ancient supremacy of women in families ; 
secondly, to see how far the system of kinship, through 
females only, can be traced through the custom of 
naming children after the mother ; and, thirdly, briefly 
to consider the most ancient Greek traditions of the 
primitive state, in their relation to my argument. 

First. 1. Evidence of the ancient predomiaance of 
women among the Greeks is to be found in the number 
of their female divinities, and especially in the number 
of their Eponymse. Looking to the Greek theogony, 
and accepting that view of systems of polytheism which 
represents them as resulting from the fusion of tribes or 
races, and the combination, in one Olympus, of the 
divinities which, before fusion, the tribes or races re- 
spectively worshipped, we must believe that many of 
the Greek tribes anciently worshipped only female 
divinities. And it is iu accordance with this that five 
of the eight divinities of immemorial Greek worship 
were female — Here, Persephone, Athene, Demeter, and 
Aphrodite. (Studies on Homer, voL ii. p. 395.) As 
to the Greek Eponymse, their number is remarkably 

Crane, Duck, Sable, and Pike. It might be worth the while of 
some one with leisure to see how the facts bearing on this question 
would look when collected and marshalled. There are dozens of 
existing races, some of them comparatively advanced, whose tribes 
are thus named. Why may it not have been so among the ancient 
Greeks ? 

[The suggestion made in the preceding paragraph was afterwards 
developed by the author in a series of papers " On the "Worship of 
Animals and Plants" (Fortnightly Review, 1869 — 70) — which will be 
republished in a new series of Studies in Ancient History.] 


great, considering the disposition of the later Greeks to 
substitute male for female pedigrees. Among the 
Eponymse are Salamis, Corcyra, ^gina, Thebe, the 
daughters of the river Asopus (Diod. iv. 13 ; Paus. ii. 
5, § 1), Messene, Sparta, Athene, and Mycene — all of 
them belonging to the pre-historic period, whereas we 
know that many of the Eponymi of the genealogists 
were invented within historic times. Sparta is older 
than Spartus ; Mycene than Myceneus. Mycene as an 
Eponyma is mentioned by Homer ; Myceneus, who 
supplanted her, is, as Mr. Grote points out, the creation 
of post-Homeric Greece. How came it that there were 
so many goddesses in the early times, that so many 
cities and tribes were named after women ? Must wo 
not hold that women were anciently of high social 
importance ? Is there not the suggestion that they 
were the chiefs of the groups of kindred '? 

2. Not only were the tribes 'named after women ; 
they explained their affinities to one another by pointing 
to the relationship of their primitive mothers. The 
daughters of Asopus were carried off in various direc- 
tions by gods, and became the mothers of tribes, which 
were thus kindred to one another. The kinship was no 
mythological dream, but a practical fact ; the myth was 
its explanation. Let us, for example, take the case of 
the Thebans and ^ginetans. When the Thebans, says 
Herodotus (v. 80, 81), in the sixty-eighth Olympiad, 
were hard pressed in war by Athens, they were directed 
by the Delphian oracle to ask assistance of their next of 
kin. EecoUecting that Thebe and ^gina had been 


sisters, tiiey were induced to apply to the ^ginetans as 
their next of kin ; and the ^ginetans gave them aid, 
first by sending their common heroes, the ^acidae, next 
by actual armed force. How much of truth there is in 
the myth explaining this connection between the The- 
bans and the ^ginetans is immaterial ; it is enough for 
us that this tradition of the pre-historical period repre- 
sents the two peoples as tracing their affinities through 
women — looking back to women as the heads of the 
families from which they sprang, and seeking their next 
of kin on the mother's side. A similar case is that of 
the Lycteans in Crete, who claimed affinity with Athens 
and with Sparta. In both cases the affinity was traced 
through mothers only, the fathers being wholly dis- 

1 We find, by the way, a case something like that of the 
Thebans and jEginetans in connection with the story of Boreas 
and Oreithyia. On the invasion of Xerxes the Athenians were told 
by the oracle to invoke the aid of their son-in-law. They remem- 
bered Oreithyia and invoked Boreas, who sent a north-east wind, 
which wrecked the Persian fleet. I may farther observe that the 
jSlacid genealogy establishes a connection between ^gina, Salamis, 
and PhtMa. That between ^gina and Salamis we know : they 
were daughters of the river Asopus. Was the connection of these 
and Phthia also established through women 1 

Though I rest an argument upon the reception of these tribal 
affinities through first mothers among the Greeks, it must not be 
supposed that I believe that tribal affinities were really created 
through the sisterhood of first mothers, or that any one of the 
Greek tribes was really composed of all the descendants of one 
woman or one married pair. I fcelieve that the social unit, if one 
may so speak, was not the family, but the tribe ; that the operation 
of exogamy — the law forbidding the marriage of persons of the same 


The female divinities, the Eponymse, the traditions 
of tribal affinities through women, seem all to be 
indications of the ancient system of female kinship. 

Second. Let us now see how far we can directly 
trace that system in Greece through the custom of 
naming children after the mother. This custom is an 
unmistakable " note " of the system of kinship through 
females only. Many illustrations of the connection 
between the two wiU be found in Primitive Marriage. 
To name one or two must suffice at present. The 
native Australians have female kinship only ; among 
them children always belong to the family of their 

stock — and of the system of kinship through females only, produced 
the division of the tribe into gentes (the word is convenient), con- 
sisting of persons born of mothers of the same stock ; and that 
within the gens, when circumstances had developed the feeling of a 
closer relationship between persons born of the same mother, there 
arose the family, consisting at first of a mother and her children. 
This view is in harmony with all that is known of the history of 
property. The subject is discussed, though not so fully as it should 
have been, in Primitive Marriage, chap. vui. AflSnity between two 
tribes would, on this view, be created through the marriage system 
having produced within both of them a number of gentes of the 
same stock. A family system in which the mother was the family 
head, her children the heirs, and her daughters the continuers of 
the family and gens to which she belonged — her husband or hus- 
bands being strangers to the gens — would account for women 
attaining a considerable position, and also for their being 
reputed to be, as they really were, the means of allying tribes to 
one another. I hope that before long I shall succeed in show- 
ing by satisfactory evidence that this view of the growth of 
society is supported by the facts of ancient Greek history. It seems 
highly probable that the names of the first mothers, through whom 
tribes were reputed to be connected, were really gentile names. 


motlier, and take her family name. The American 
Indians again, having the same limited kinship, their 
children also take the totem or family name of the 
mother. The Kocch in Northern India, the Celts 
in ancient Britain ; in fact, a great array of cases, 
ancient and modern, might be cited to establish this 
connection. But those cited will suffice if the reader 
takes along with them the fact that, among ourselves, 
in all European countries, wherever practically, or in 
the eye- of the law, there is kinship only through the 
mother, as in cases of illegitimacy, it is customary to 
call children by the name of the mother. This, while 
it is the natural consequence of the non-acknowledg- 
ment of the tie through the father, cannot, so far as I 
can see, be the consequence of anything else. And so 
far as I know, the custom of naming children after the 
mother has never been found in a case where relationship 
to the father was fully acknowledged. If it be a 
clear sign of exclusively female kinship that children 
should take the mother's family name, it is d, for- 
tiori, a note of it that they should be called by a 

We saw an instance of naming /MrjTp66ei', in Ithaca, 
in the case of the beggar Arnseus, and reasons to suspect 
another in the aristocratic house of Idas and Marpessa 
Evenine. I now proceed to show that what in these 
two cases may have been exceptional was the custom 
of the Lycians, the Athenians, the Cretans, and 

(a) As regards the Lycians, whose close affinity to 


the Greeks appears undoubted, we have the testimony 
of several witnesses. Herodotus says of them, KoXeovat, 


any one," he proceeds to say, " asks his neighbour who 
he is, he will declare himself born of such a mother, and 
will reckon up the female ancestors of his mother ; ^ and 
if a female citizen should marry a slave, all her offspring 
are deemed wellborn ; whereas, if a male citizen, and 
even the chief one amongst them, should take a foreign 
wife or a concubine, the children are without rights." 
Not the name only, but the status also, was taken from 
the mother. To like effect writes Nicolaus Damascenus, 
AvKioi ras yvvaiKas fiaXKov tj tovs avBpas Tificoai, Kai 
KoKovvrai firjrpcOev, tols je KXTjpovoftias rais Ovyarpaai, 
Xemovaiv ov tois vlois. "The Lycians honour their 
women rather than their men, and are called after the 
mother. They leave their inheritance to their daugh- 
ters, and not to their sons." HeracUdes Ponticus 
represents them as having been accustomed from of old 
to be ruled by their women, eV iraXaiov ywatKOKpaTovvrai ; 
while Plutarch attests that they had the custom of 
naming children uriTpoOev. Plutarch relates a fable 
of the origin of the custom among the people of 
Xanthus, which he concludes by saying, Stb Koi vc/j,os 
TjV Tois Savdiois, /ir) irarpoQev, ahX airb fj,7jTpmv, XF"}' 

fiarl^eip. This fable seems to be referred to by Pausanias, 

^ Have we a hint that this method of forming pedigrees had 
not gone wholly into disuse among the Homeric Greeks, in Odyss. 
i. 223? 


but curiously enough, as a Troezenian and not a Lycian 

{0) The ancient Attic traditions are full of recollec- 
tions of female supremacy. It is not my purpose to 
attempt to show this, which could only be done by 
examining, at great length, a variety of old legends. 
My present business is with the tradition that at one 
time in Athens marriage was unknown in its modern 
forms, and that children were named after their mothers. 
This tradition is given by Justinus, Suidas, and Varro,^ 

The Athenians, says Justinus (ii. 6), "Ante 
Deucalionis tempora regem habuere Cecropa, quern, ut 
omnis antiquitas fabulata est, biformem prodidere, quia 
primus marem foeminse matrimonio junxit." To the 
same ejffect Suidas (sub voce UpofirjOevs). 

1 See Herod, i. 173 ; MUUer's Fr. Hist. Or. 5, 461 ; Heracl. 
Font, de reb. pub. fr. 15 ; MUller's Fr. Hist. Gr. ; Plutarch de Mvl. 
Virt. cap. LycioB ; Pausan. ii. 32, § 7. As there is ground for sus- 
pecting an affinity between the Greeks and Egyptians, I notice what 
Herodotus (ii. 35, 36) says of the latter : " No necessity binds sons 
to keep their parents when they do not choose ; whereas daughters 
are obliged to do so, even if against their choice. This custom Raw-^ 
linson declares to be incredible. No doubt it was a relic of the 
Lycian stage, in which the daughters were the heirs. The custom 
is now in full force among the Kocch, with whom the women are 
the heads of families (see Primitive Ma/rriage, p. 151). I need 
hardly say that in the Lycian customs we have the fullest explanation 
of the superiority of Sarpedon to Glaucus. 

2 As a specimen of the class of legends to which I refer, I may 
cite that of the origin of the loxidse. They traced through loxus and 
Melanippus to Perigune, the daughter of Sinis, as their primitive 
mother, and from her derived their custom of reverencing as holy 
and worshipping certain marsh plants. (Plut. Theseus, chap, iv.) 


" Under the government of Cecrops," says Varro 
{apud August, de Civ. Dei, xviii. 9), " a double wonder 
sprang out of the earth at the same time ; in one place 
the olive-tree, and in another water. The king, in 
terror, sent to Delphi to ask what he should do. The 
god answered that the olive-tree signified Minerva 
(Athene), and the water Neptune (Poseidon) ; and that 
it remained with the burgesses to choose after which 
of the two they would name their town. Cecrops 
called an assembly of the burgesses, both men and 
women, for it was then the custom to let the women 
take part in the public councils. The men voted for 
Poseidon, the women for Athene ; and as there were 
more women than men by one, Athene conquered. 
Thereon Poseidon was enraged, and immediately the 
sea flowed over all the lands of Athens. To appease 
the god the burgesses found it necessary to impose a 
threefold punishment on their wives. They were to 
lose their votes ; the children were to receive no more 
the mother's name ; and they themselves were no 
longer to be called Athenians after the goddess." 
"Ut nuUa ulterius ferrent suffragia, ut nullus nas- 
centium maternum nomen acciperet, ut ne quis eas 
Athenseas vocaret." . . . "In mulieribus quae sic 
punitse sunt, et Minerva quae vicerat victa est ; nee 
adfuit suffragatricibus suis, ut sufiragiorum deinceps 
perdita potestate, et alienatis filiis a nominibus matrum, 
Athenseas saltem vocari liceret, et ejus dese mereri 
vocabulum quam viri dei victricem fecerant ferendo 
sufFragium." Thus the tradition is, that before the 


struggle for the mastery in tlie city, between Athene 
and Poseidon, — of which we have so many accounts — 
children in Attica, as in Lycia, bore the names of their 
mothers, and the women, as a body, were named after 
the goddess so long as they were called Athenians. 
They were then true burgesses ; afterwards they were 
only burgher's wives. The tradition at once affirms 
that children at Athens were anciently named after 
the mother, ajid illustrates the high position anciently 
held by women among the Greeks.^ It is a tradition 
of a genuinely archaic state, and I believe it to be 
a myth founded upon fact. When did it take shape ? 
It certainly was not the invention of later Greece. 
Athene is here the representative and champion of 
what Bachofen calls " mother-right." In the Eumenides 
it is Athene who by her vote decides that a child is 
not of kin to its mother ! 

(7) The Cretans, according to Plutarch, spoke of 
Crete not as their fatherland but as their " mother- 
land " ; they said not vaTpis, but firjrpls. In his treatise 
as to whether an old man should have the govern- 
ment of a state (ed. Lips. 1777, vol. ix. p. 166) 
Plutarch says : " Suppose that thou hadst a Tithonus 
for father, who was immortal, but ^on account of his 
great age always required care, thou wouldst doubt- 
less not hesitate or find it burdensome to treat him 

1 Strabo (ix. 402), on the authority of Ephorus, relates a story 
in some respects similar to that of Varro, which suggests that the 
BcEotian women had anciently the same standing and privileges as 
the women of Athens. 


kindly, and do everything for his support, inasmuch 
as he had for long done so much good to thee. But 
thy fatherland, or as the Cretans are wont to say, thy 
motherland, is immeasurably older and has far greater 
rights than even parents." 

It would follow from the custom of tracing pedigrees 
through mothers, in conjunction with the notion of 
Autochthonism, that a man giving his pedigree must 
at last arrive at his first mother, his native land, and 
that he must call his country motherland, and not 
fatherland. That the Cretans thus spoke of their 
country points to the prevalence in Crete, in ancient 
times, of the custom of naming children from the 
mother. That colonists should call their original home 
Metropolis [firirpoiroXis) is a different matter ; yet even 
this word, as it implies a preference for the mother, 
must have come into use prior to those times in 
which, as we have seen, the kinship between mother 
and child was disputed. 

There are numerous hints of the system of female 
kinship in the Cretan legends. I shall just notice 
one at which I have already glanced. The Lycteans 
considered themselves a Lacedaemonian colony, and 
kindred of the Athenians. The Athenian connection 
went back to those women whom the Pelasgic Tyr- 
rhenians carried off from Cape Brauron, and only the 
mothers of the colonists were Spartans. In neither 
case did the Lycteans take any notice of the fathers. 
{Plut. de Mulier, Virt. cap. Tyrrhence.) 

(S) The evidence of the Messenians having had the 


custom of naming after the mother is similar to that 
just seen in the case of the Cretans, but is a degree 
more indirect. It is to be inferred from the dream 
of Gomon, the Messenian leader, and its interpretation 
as recorded by Pausanias, that the Messenians called 
their native place firirpls and not iraTpis. Comon 
dreamed that he lay with his dead mother and she 
came to life. " The dream signified that Messene 
should be recovered again." The Messenians, it will 
be remembered, had an Eponyma, Messene.^ 

It is almost needless to repeat that we must believe 
that the system of kinship through females only pre- 
vailed wherever it was the custom to name children 
after the mother. 

Third. It only remains to consider whether any, 
and what conclusions as to the early history of kin- 
ship in Greece can be drawn from the body of tradition 
preserved among the Greeks, declaring what were, in 
the earliest times, the condition and habits of their 

All Greek tradition represents the early inhabitants 

1 Pausan. iv. 26, § 3. Bachofen suggests that out of the idea 
of a common motherland rose the conception of the general brother- 
hood of members of the State. He notices the old Eoman definition 
of parricide as derived from that conception. " Nam paricida non 
utique is, qui parentem oceidisset, dicebatur, sed qualemcumque 
hominem indemnatum. Ita fuisse indicat Lex Numse PompUii 
regis, his composita verbis ; si quis hominem liberum dolo sciens 
morti duit, paricida esto." The suggestion is ingenious, and in 
some cases the conception of the general brotherhood of citizens 
may have had such an origin. 


of the country as emerging from the depths of the 
savage state. The legends of Arcadia are equally 
distinct as to the starting-point of the race with those 
of the jEolid house of Athamas. Less horrible than 
these, but equally unambiguous, and to the same effect, 
are the traditions of Crete and Attica. Everywhere 
the Greeks believed in a past of savage rudeness, and 
cherished the memories of those who helped them to 
take the first steps of progress. Their ancestors, 
according to their legends, were cannibals, and ofi"ered 
human sacrifices to the gods ; were ignorant of agri- 
culture, and lived on roots and sheU-fish ; had no 
marriage and no laws. Then came one who taught 
them to prune the vine and to plough the soil ; and 
another who gave them marriage, laws, and social order. 
The legends which have handed down the names of 
these reputed founders of society were received as true 
by the mass of the people ; but, of course, the con- 
clusion that they are true cannot be founded upon 
the popular acceptance of them. There is no doubt 
whatever of their being of great antiquity. The fabled 
golden age of Hesiod, had it been a popular faith and 
not a mere poet's dream, would obviously not b6 in- 
consistent with these legends, would raise no shadow 
of obstacle to their reception, for they describe a 
state of things existing long after it is said to have 
vanished from the earth. 

If a people were to emerge from a state of savage- 
ness, in which the association of the sexes had been 
subject to no regulation, nobody need be surprised if 


they did not, at a single step, arrive at a practice of 
monandry. Those who are acquainted with the usual 
circumstances of savage tribes would be very much 
surprised were [they to do so. Owing to the practice 
of female infanticide, which the difficulties of subsist- 
ence force savages to adopt, and the liability to have 
their wives carried off by envious neighbours, the 
women in a group — even at a comparatively advanced 
stage — are usually much less numerous than the men; 
so that, for savages, to say nothing of other considera- 
tions, a general practice of monandry is, in the common 
case, if not invariably, physically impossible. Then- 
first approaches to permanent cohabitation — the first 
regulated association of the sexes among them — must 
take the shape of a system of polyandry. I have 
already described three distinct types of polyandry, 
which I have severally called the Nair, the British, 
and the Tibetan ; and I hold the British (notwith- 
standing incidents to us revolting) to be superior to 
the Nair, and the Tibetan to the British, because, in 
either case, the one admits of a better family system 
than the other. Since the two higher forms could 
only exist among a people who had, independently of 
them, acquired the idea of close kinship subsisting 
between parent and child, and between children of the 
same parent, it is obvious that a people with whom 
marriage and the family had been unknown could not 
at the first attempt arrive at either of these. For these 
they must have been prepared by the experience of a 
system like that of the Nairs, and possibly one still 


ruder, under which, it would be possible for children 
of the same mother to acquire the feelings of relation- 
ship, and become bound to one another by a sense of 
common interests. The Tibetan polyandry once reached, 
an improving race would slowly advance, as we know 
many races have done, from it to monandry ; and with 
monandry, when established, there would most probably 
remain, in the Levirate, a trace of their previous 

With such a people, at the Nair stage, women 
would (as among the Nairs) be the heads of families, 
daughters the heirs and continuers ; and the position 
of women, if the system lasted long, would become 
one of high consideration. There would be kinship 
only through the mother, because paternity would be 
uncertain : and men would, for distinction, be named 
after the mother as naturally as at a subsequent stage 
they were named after the father. 

It would not be surprising to find a people with 
such a history, after the famUy and the system of kin- 
ship had taken a substantially modern shape, in some 
respects treating the uterine connection as closer than 
the tie through a common father; forbidding uterine 
brother and sister, for example, while allowing brother 
and sister german, to marry ; to find their tribes 
tracing themselves back to common mothers, not 
to common fathers — their legends telling of a time 
when not the patronymic, but the matronymic, was 
in use ; least of all, to find them, at the beginning 



of history, remarkable for good treatment of their 
women. ^ 

"We iiave seen that in the most polished of the states 
of Greece, long after the family system had assumed the 
modem form — after a movement which magnified the 
tie of common fatherhood, and depreciated that of 
common motherhood, had made considerable progress 
— marriage was stUl allowed between brother and 
sister german, while between brother and sister 
uterine it was prohibited. "We have found that not a 
few of the Grecian tribes deduced their descent, not 
from a first father, but from a first mother ; that through 
the kinship of their first mothers, some of them held 
that they were closely allied one to the other; and that 
in several cases the tradition was preserved of a time 
when men were named after their mothers. In addition 

^ It is no mere conjecture that a people advancing from the 
savage state should pass through the progress outliaed above ; for 
it can be shown that such has been the usual — and so far as we 
know it has been the invariable — history of improving peoples. It 
can be shown, on the one hand, that the successive stages pave the 
way for one another — the onward movement taking place under 
influences which can be assigned ; on the other hand, that the 
customs and institutions of races comparatively advanced usually 
present many indications of an experience of the lower stages. And 
even the Nairs, whose marriage system is the rudest form of poly- 
andry, are an improving people — there are improving influences at 
work amongst them. There is nothing to show that the position of 
their ancestors, at any former period, was better than theirs is now 
— nothing to contradict the hypothesis that they came out of the 
savage state. 


to these unmistakable vestiges of a period when fathers 
were " nowhere," and mothers were the heads of families 
— when polyandry of the Nair type was prevalent, and 
there was kinship through mothers only — we have seen 
that the greater number of the most ancient Greek 
divinities were female, which — not to make too much of 
it — seems to be an illustration of the ancient importance 
of women. In the Homeric period, too, with a family 
system of modern structure — with double kinship, but 
yet a preference for the uterine tie — we have found that 
women had great influence, and were held in high con- 
sideration. Since they lost place after this, as the 
movement toward agnation went on,'^ and since this 
movement has always begun before the modern family 

1 This proposition requires a few words of elucidation. The 
movement towards agnation obviously rose out of — or rather fol- 
lowed upon — the growth and consolidation of the patria potestas 
(see Maine's Ancient Law, p. 149 et seq.). It was an indication of 
the growth of paternal authority ; and as fathers continued to gain, 
it was natural that mothers should continue to lose. At the begin- 
ning of history, in mpst cases, we find the patria potestas already so 
firmly established that, with or without agnation, fathers had the 
power of life and death over their wives and children, and that these 
were as devoid of rights as if they had been slaves. It is not neces- 
sary to quote authorities to show that this has been found to be a 
result — usually a very early one — of the monandric marriage sys- 
tem. Agnation, where it exists, is always a sign that the paternal 
supremacy is complete. My argument at this point may be put 
thus : in a family system, in which the father is the head of the 
family, it is found that all authority falls, and probably in no long 
time, into the father's hands ; the tendency of such a family system 
is found to be to exalt the husband and lower the wife. Such a 
system could not result in women being treated with great con- 
sideration, and if we find women among any people so treated under 

R 2 


system has lasted long, and lias ever been found un- 
favourable to women, we must seek, in tbe circum- 
stances of an earlier family system, tbe explanation of 
their position at the earlier time. And we have it in 
the position attained by women under the Nair form of 
polyandry, of which so many indications have already 
been pointed out. That suffices for the explanation, 
and I know of nothing else that is sufficient for it. It 
is so much the less difficult to believe that the Greek 

it, the cause most probably is something earlier in the marriage 
customs of the people. Of course all this refers to a period long 
anterior to that at which humane and reasonable considerations 
are influential enough to procure for women some approach to an 
equality of rights. 

[See, in connection with the earlier part of the preceding para- 
graph, note on p. 126. Reference may also be made to The 
Patrimrchal Theory, ch. xiii. On the theory of agnation stated in 
this work, there was, with kinship through males, a tendency to 
agnation, but it had to overcome the resistance offered by the pre- 
vious establishment of a system of kinship through females ; and 
the circumstances which favoured it included the removal of the 
most effective (often, no doubt, the only efEective) check upon the 
paternal power — the protection of the wife's kindred. On this 
theory, therefore, the paternal power was high wherever there was 
much likelihood of kinship becoming agnatic. 

Among savage or barbarous peoples it is found with male kin- 
ship that the wife's position is often very low, and that a man can 
often do with his children pretty much what he pleases so long as 
they are young and helpless, though the interest in them of their 
father's relatives, that is the blood-feud, protects them more or less. 
Patria potestas, in the Koman sense — the highest power a savage 
could possess over wife and young children, in consequence of his 
freedom from control, recognised as a father's right by law over his 
wife and his children at all ages — has, nevertheless, been so rare 
that no clear example of it has ever been found except in Rome.] 


tribes had an experience of this marriage system, that 
we have found the strongest possible evidence of its 
existence among the Lycians, their close kinsfolk ; 
among whom, long after Homer's time, not only was 
the matronymic in use, but daughters were the heirs of 
families, and pedigrees were counted through female 
ancestors only. And, indeed, the shortness of the 
genealogies in Homer raises a suspicion that the Greeks 
themselves in Homer's time had not had long practice 
in counting pedigrees through males. 

Again — not to dwell upon weak or doubtful matters, 
such as the apparent operation of the Levirate among 
the Trojans,^ or the practice closely resembling it, found, 
long after Homer's time, at Athens — we have evidence, 
both direct and inferential, that the Tibetan polyandry 
prevailed in post-Homeric times in Sparta — the state 
reported to have best preserved the ancient customs' of 
the Greeks. The evidence, direct and inferential taken 
together, seems sufficient to support this statement ; its 
consistency with so much that we have seen of the 
customs of the ancient Greeks is an additional reason 
for receiving it. And again, the fact that Tibetan 
polyandry prevailed in Sparta is, in no small degree, 
corroborative of the conclusion, that the early Greeks 
generally were polyandrous. We have seen that this 
conclusion, supported on the one side by the Spartan 
customs, is, from another point of view, made probable 
by what has been handed down of the marriage customs 
of the Medians and Persians— the peoples to whom, in 

^ [See page 222, and note at page 109.] 


all probability, the tribes of the Greeks are most 
nearly akin. 

Let me now ask whetlier tbe facts of Greek history, 
summarized above, are not perfectly consistent with the 
tradition that the early Greeks emerged from a state of 
savageness in which marriage was unknown to them? 
The indications of the existence in Greece of the Nair 
family system seem to me irresistible ; and the earliest 
family system of a savage people would almost cer- 
tainly be of the Nair type. It is remarkable that so 
many traces of that system should remain, and no 
doubt there are many which have escaped my search ; 
but if, as I think, those which I have pointed out 
support and verify the Greek tradition, on the other 
hand the tradition should make some persons more 
ready to believe that the family system, which has been 
so often tracked in ancient Greece, is really that of 
Nair polyandry, and the close relationship to the 
mother, which forms an incident of it, the system of 
kinship through females only. 

If I have proved that the system of double kinship, 
which prevailed in the time of Homer, was preceded by 
a system of kinship through females only, then — since 
it cannot be disputed that the Greeks subsequently 
made a very near approach to agnation, if they did not 
actually reach it — the scheme of the development of 
systems of kinship propounded by me at the outset, 
and the truth of which I proposed to test in the case of 
the Greeks, has successfully stood that test. 




MR. morgan's conjectural SOLUTION OF THE ORIGIN 

In the League of the Iroquois, published in 1854, 
Mr. Morgan gave an account of " the system of relation- 
ships " of that people, which he for a time considered as 
an invention of theirs, and peculiar to them. After- 
wards finding this system, or one similar to it, among 
the other Indian nations, he thought it might be made 
a means of solving what he calls " the great problem of 
the Asiatic origin " of the Eed Indians. He accordingly 
procured to be sent, with the sanction of the United 
States Government, to the agents of that Government 
in foreign countries, a letter explaining the Iroquois 
relationship system, accompanied by blank schedules of 
questions designed to elicit accounts of the systems of 
relationships in use among the peoples among whom 
those agents were severally stationed. His work on 


The Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the 
Human Family^ consists — (1, and chiefly) of tlie 
returns made in answer to this letter; (2) of exposi- 
tions connected with or explanatory of the returns ; 
(3) of a conjectural solution of the origin of "the 
classificatory system of relationships," ^ as he has called 
the systems of the Iroquois type; and (4 and lastly) 
of an elaborate discussion of " the great problem " 
above mentioned. If Mr. Morgan had any other 
purpose in his inquiry than the solution of this 
problem, it was to ascertain " the parent tribe " of 
mankind, or, as he himself expresses it, " to re- ascend 
the several lines of the outflow of the generations, and 
reach and identify that parent stock from which we 
believe we are all alike descended." Since the results 
of an inquiry undertaken with such aims prove to be 
of great value for the purposes of scientific history, 
we may well admire the happy chance to which they 
have been owing. ° 

1 Washington City, 1871. 

^ The system in use among ourselves he calls the Descriptive 
System of Eelationships. 

^ See Mr. Morgan's circular letter, Cambrian Jowrnal, vol. iii., 
second series, pp. 149 — 66. How antipathetical to Mr. Morgan's 
mind the historical method is, may be seen in his ascribing the 
origin of what he calls " the Hawaian custom " to a reformatory 
movement of society j and the origin of exogamy — ^which he calls 
the tribal organization — to legislation. In his view they were both 
of them " institutions designed to work out the amelioration of 
society." This in his latest work : the same spirit breathed in his 
earliest. "By the formation of societies and governments," he 
says {League of the Iroquois, p. 56), " mankind are brought largely 


'The " conjectural solution " above mentioned, which 
alone concerns us here, is comprised in twenty pages 
of the work (pp. 474 — 94) ; and was suggested to 
Mr. Morgan by his friend Professor Mcllwaine. It is 
a supposition that in the progress of society certain 
stages occurred in a certain order, as the normal stages 
in the evolution of marriage and the family ; or, to 
use Mr. Morgan's own words, it is " an assumption of 
the existence and general prevalence of a series of 
customs and institutions which sprang up, at intervals, 
along the pathwa;y of man's experience, and which 
must, of necessity, have preceded a knowledge of 
marriage between single pairs, and of the family 
itself, in the modern sense of the term." 

The stages comprised in the series are fifteen in 
number, and are stated thus (p. 480) : — 

I. (The starting-point.) Promiscuous intercourse, 

II. The intermarriage or cohabitation of brothers 
and sisters. 

III. The communal family (first stage of the 

IV. The Hawaian custom — giving 

V. The Malayan form of the classificatory system 
of relationship. 

VI. The tribal organization — giving 

VII. The Turanian and Ganow^nian systems of 

under the influence of the social relations, and their progress has 
been found to be in exact proportion to the wisdom of the institu- 
tions under which their minds were developed." 


VIII. Marriage between single pairs — giving 

IX. The Barbarian famUy (second stage of the 

X. Polygamy — giving 

XL The Patriarchal family (third stage of the 

XII. Polyandria. 

XIII. The rise of property, with the settlement of 
lineal succession to estates — ^giving 

XIV. The civUized family (fourth and ultimate 
stage of the family) — producing 

XV. The overthrow of the classificatory system 
of relationship, and the substitution of the descriptive. 

It will have been noticed that by means of the 
first four of these stages Mr. Morgan undertakes to 
explain the " Malayan form " of the classificatory 
system of relationships, which is the form of that 
system found in the Sandwich Islands, and one or 
two other places. "The first four customs or institu- 
tions being given," he says (p. 480 ^), " the origin of 
the Malayan system can be demonstrated from the 
nature of descents, and the several relationships shown 
to be those actually existing." Then by means of the 
same stages in connection with the sixth stage, " the 
tribal organization," he undertakes to explain the 
" Turanian " and " GanowAnian " forms of the classi- 
ficatory system — the " Turanian " being the form found 

1 The reference is to Mr. Morgan's work on The Systems of Con- 
sanguinity and Affinity of the Humom Family, whenever the page 
only is given. 


among fhe Hindus, the Chinese, and others, and the 
"Ganowdnian" being that found among American 
Indians.^ It may be taken as indisputable that, these 
three forms explained, the origin of the classificatory 
system is explained ; and that done, the other varieties 
of the system present comparatively few points of diffi- 
culty. I propose then to examine, in this chapter, the 
explanations which Mr. Morgan oflFers of the origin of 
those forms. In the next chapter I shall suggest a 
new explanation of their origin. 

The main features of the Malayan system of rela- 
tionships, the form of the classificatory system which 
stands first for explanation, are the following : — 

1. The children of my several brothers and of my 
several sisters are my children, and their children again 
are my grandchildren. 

2. All the children of several own brothers and 
all the children of several own sisters are brothers 
and sisters to each other, and all the children of these 

1 The terms "Turanian" and " Ganowdnian " are, as employed 
by Mr. Morgan, new and not very apt. His " Turanian family " 
comprises "the people of South India, who speak the Dra vidian 
language, and number upwards of thirty millions ; the people of 
North India, who speak the Gaura language, and number upwards 
of one hundred millions ; the Chinese, who are supposed to number 
upwards of three hundred millions ; and the Japanese, who are in- 
cluded provisionally, numbering about thirty millions" (p. 385). 
The " Ganowdnians " are the American Indians, the name being 
compounded of two Indian words, and meaning " the bow-and-arrow 


collateral brothers and sisters are brothers and sisters : 
and so on. 

3. All the brothers of my father and of my mother 
are my fathers, and all the sisters of my father and 
of my mother are my mothers. 

•4. All the children of my several collateral brothers 
and sisters are my children, and their children again 
are my grandchildren. 

5. All the brothers and sisters of my grandparents 
are my grandparents.^ 

Another feature of the system is that the brothers- 
in-law of my father and of my mother are my fathers, 
and their sisters-in-law are my mothers, and to this 
Mr. Morgan thus refers (p. 483) when closing his 
solution : — " The several marriage-relationships may be 
explained with more or less certainty on the same 
principles." But he does not attempt to explain the 
marriage relationships. 

The means by which Mr. Morgan undertakes to 
account for those relationships are, as we have seen, 
the first four of his series of stages, or rather (the 
first being the assumed starting-point), the second, 
third, and fourth of these stages, of which he says 
that they all came slowly into existence, and were 
"of still slower diffusion among the nations as they 
progressed in experience." 

He offers no evidence of the former prevalence of 
intermarriages of brothers and sisters as a general 
custom, or of the existence of the " communal family." 
1 See pages 482 and 483, from which the statement is abridged. 


His case is, that if we can explain the Malayan system 
on the assumption that such a general custom, and such 
a family-system once existed prior to or along with the 
" Hawaian custom," then we must believe that they did 
formerly exist. 

As to the brother and sister marriages he puts the 
case thus high : " "Without this custom," he says (p. 
488), " it is impossible to explain the origin of the 
system from the nature of descents. There is therefore 
a necessity for the prevalence of this custom amongst 
the remote ancestors of all the nations which now pos- 
sess the classificatory system, if the system itself is to 
be regarded as having a natural origin." The " commu- 
nal family " is a sort of corollary from this necessary 
fact. It was a group of brothers and sisters living in 
what Sir John Lubbock calls " communal marriage," the 
husbands and wives knowing they were brothers and 
sisters, and dwelling sufficiently on their close blood- 
bond to elaborate a system of relationships from it 
while yet the incestuous communism lasted. 

The " Hawaian custom," as described by Mr. Morgan, 
was a custom according to which several own brothers, 
and their wives, or several own sisters and their 
husbands, lived in a "communal family," — the hus- 
bands and wives in either case being unrelated by blood. 
He mentions it (p. 457) "as now for the first time 
announced," on the authority of Mr. Andrews, a judge 
at Honolulu, and cites the Rev. Artemus Bishop as a 
corroborating witness. The statements made by both 
these gentlemen, however, — they relate to the Sandwich 


Islands, — are not of the nature of testimony, "but are 
guesses to explain the Malayan system, about which 
they were giving information to Mr. Morgan. Mr. 
Andrews says only that "the relationship of Pinalua is 
rather amphibious. It arose from the fact that two or 
more brothers with their wives, or two or more sisters 
with their husbands, were inclined to possess each other 
in common ; but the modern use of the word is that of 
dear friend or intimate companion." What Mr. Bishop 
says does not necessarily refer to a custom of that sort 
at all. He says that "the confusion of relationships 
(among the Hawaians) is the result of the ancient 
custom among relatives of the living together of hus- 
bands and wives in common." This statement, putting 
the strongest construction upon it, may as well refer to 
what Mr. Morgan calls the " communal family " as to 
the "Hawaian custom." The latter custom, therefore, 
— of which " no trace has been found in any part of 
Asia or America," as Mr. Morgan admits, and no evidence 
anywhere in the world, — must be regarded as a pure 
assumption made to explain the Malayan system. It 
is in the same case as the " communal family," and 
marriages of brothers and sisters, i.e. it is a "stage" 
for which there is no evidence. 

What Mr. Morgan claims to have shown (p. 483) 
by means of the marriages of brothers and sisters, the 
"communal family" and the "Hawaian custom," is, 
(1) That the Malayan system of relationships is a 
system of blood relationships; and (2) That every 


relationsliip in the system can be explained from the 
nature of descents, and be shown to be the one actually 
existing (when the system was formed), as near as 
the parentage of individuals could be known. Let us 
see how far he has succeeded. 

1. The Malayan system of relationships is a system 
of blood relationships. 

Mr. Morgan assumes this, and says nothing of the 
obstacles to making the assumption. No doubt he 
conceives this fundamental fact to be proved, as the 
stages required for his explanation are proved, by the 
success of the conjectural solution in the second branch 
of his undertaking. 

2. Every relationship in the Malayan system can 
he explained from the nature of descents, and he shown 
to he the one actually existing, as near as the parentage 
of individvAxls could he known. 

It will suffice if we attend to a few only of the 
relationships in the system ; for it is plain that they 
can all be explained, if it can be explained — 1, Why 
aU the brothers of my father and all the brothers of 
my mother are my fathers ; 2, Why all the sisters of 
my father and all the sisters of my mother are my 
mothers. Let us note Mr. Morgan's explanations of 
these facts, and also to what customs the explanations 
are referred (see pp. 481-83). 

1. My father's brothers are my fathers, because 
they aU cohabit with my mother. One of them is 
certainly my father, and it is uncertain which. There- 
fore they are all called my fathers. [The reference 


may be either to brother and sister marriages or to 
the " Hawaian custom."] 

2. My mother's brothers are my fathers, because 
" my mother is the wife of all her brothers." [The 
reference is to brother and sister marriages.] 

3. My father's sisters are my mothers, because they 
and my mother are wives to my father and his brothers. 
[The reference is to brother and sister marriages.] 

4. My mother's sisters are my mothers, because they 
are, along with my mother, the wives of their brothers. 
[The reference is to brother and sister marriages.] 

All the references are to brother and sister marriages, 
unless under No. 1 the reference is to the "Hawaian 
custom." But it is not necessary to resort to the 
" custom " in explanation of this case, and it is obvious 
that the " custom " could be of no avail to explain the 
other cases. Indeed, Mr. Morgan says (p. 439), "The 
existence of this custom ('the Hawaian') is not neces- 
sary to an explanation of the origin of the Malayan 
system." The Malayan system is found, then, to be 
explainable by brother and sister marriages solely ; and 
the " Hawaian custom " is, consequently, without even 
such support as having a share in the solution could 
give it. 

As to the sufficiency of the explanation, need it be 
pointed out that Mr. Morgan has failed, and must have 
failed with Nos. 3 and 4? The explanation of my 
having several mothers is not of the same sort as that 
of my having several fathers. The several persons in 
Nos. 1 and 2 are called my fathers because they are 


all the husbands of my mother. One of them is 
certainly my father, and it is uncertain which ; and 
I am called the son of each of them, agreeably to this 
condition of my uncertain descent. This reasoning is 
familiar, and (so far as it goes) is all that could be 
required. But why are the several women in Nos. 3 
and 4 called my "mothers'"? Mr. Morgan says it is 
because they are the wives of my fathers, and, in the 
absence of a term in the language to denominate their 
exact relation to me, they must be called either my 
" mothers " or nothing, and, e converso, I must be called 
their " son." But this is giving up his case. This is 
an explanation on the ground of poverty of language 
(of which no proof is adduced — nay more, which there 
are facts to disprove), not an explanation from the 
nature of descents.^ And, indeed, if a man is called 
the " son " of a woman who did not bear him, his being 
so called clearly defies explanation on the principles 
of natural descent. The imputed relationship is not, 
in that ease, "the one actually existing as near as 
the parentage of individuals could be known " ; and, 
accordingly Mr. Morgan's proposition is not made out. 

Even had Mr. Morgan been able to surmount the 
difficulties presented by thfe fact of a man having 
several mothers, he would still have been far from 
explaining the peculiarities of the Malayan system. 
Among the peoples with whom that system is in actual 
use, a child's father's brothers are different persons from 

1 deepest, pp. 273 and 279. 

s 2 


his mother's "brothers ; and the father's sisters are 
different persons from the mother's sisters ; and the 
relations in law also of a father and of a mother are 
usually distinct persons from the brothers of the father 
and of the mother. How then came a boy to be called 
the "son" of each of several distinct sets of persons 
— his father's brothers, his mother's brothers, and his 
father's and mother's brothers-in-law? Of such facts 
as these — which were the facts he had to do with — 
Mr. Morgan offers positively no explanation. He has 
not even attempted to connect them with the relation- 
ships which would have been developed in his " com- 
munal family." In the " communal family," the men 
and women being brothers and sisters, the father's 
brothers and the mother's brothers would have been 
the same persons, the father's sisters and the mother's 
sisters the same persons ; all the descriptions of persons 
who under the Malayan system are called fathers would 
have been coincident, and all the descriptions of persons 
who under it are called mothers also coincident. How, 
agreeably to the nature of descents, came the relation- 
. ships that could have been developed in this family 
group, of persons all of one blood, to be applicable 
to relationships in family groups of the existing type, 
in which husbands and wives are no longer brothers and 
sisters, and the bloods are diverse ? It is reasonable 
to believe that Mr. Morgan never saw this difl&culty. 
In what manner, had he seen it, could he have over- 
come it ? Could he have maintained that, while the 
"communal family" lasted, the different descriptions 


of persons referred to, several of wliich would have 
been then coincident in a single person, were distin- 
guished in idea the one from the other ; so that, when 
the " communal family " passed away, the nomenclature 
which had applied to those sets of persons while they 
were yet coincident and ideally distinguished merely, 
readily extended to them when they became distinct ? 
Surely not. It is incredible that in the sort of family 
contemplated, brothers should come to regard each other 
not only as brothers but as brothers-in-law; or to be 
regarded by their children, whUe addressed by the name 
of father, as also father's brothers, mother's brothers, 
and father and mother's brothers-in-law. Mr. Morgan's 
other course was to pass on from the " communal 
family," in which the several descriptions of persons 
would have been coincident, to the family founded on 
the " Hawaian custom," in which they would have been 
to some extent distinguished, and show how what lay 
in germ in the earlier stage was unfolded in the later. 
But this also be has not attempted ; and, as we have 
seen, the " Hawaian custom " is only an hypothesis like 
the " communal family " itself. 

The explanation offered of the origin of the Malayan 
system, then, is, to say the least, unsatisfactory so far 
as it goes, and stops a long way short of being an 
explanation of the origin of the system. It is simply 
inconceivable how the system could have been developed 
from that to which Mr. Morgan refers us as the germ 
of it. 


Let us next see how, with the Malayan form given, 
Mr. Morgan accounts for the " Turanian " and " Gano- 
wdnian " forms of the classificatory system. In these 
forms, which agree with the Malayan in all other respects 
(see pp. 485-86), 

(1) AU the children of my several sisters, myself 
a male, are my nephews and nieces. 

(2) All the children of my several brothers, myself 
a female, are my nephews and nieces. 

(3) All my father's sisters are my aunts. 

(4) All my mother's brothers are my uncles. 

(5) The children of my several uncles and aunts 
are my cousins. 

(6) The children of my male cousins, myself a male, 
are, in the " Turanian " form, my nephews and nieces ; 
and the children of my female cousins are my sons 
and daughters. 

(7) The children of my male cousins, myself a male, 
are, in the " Ganowanian " form, my sons and daugh- 
ters ; and the children of my female cousins are my 
nephews and nieces. 

It will be enough to see the explanations offered at 
two leading points. Here they are : — 

Myself a male, my sisters' children are my nephews 
and nieces. 

" Eeason. — Under the ' tribal organization,' brothers 
and sisters not being allowed to intermarry or cohabit, 
the children of my sisters can no longer be my children, 
but must stand to me in a different and more remote 


relationsliip. Whence the relationships of nephew and 
niece" (p. 485). 

In considering the sufficiency of this Reason, we 
must remember that, in Mr. Morgan's scheme, the 
" Hawaian custom," which is introduced as "giving the 
Malayan form of the classificatory system," appears 
before the "tribal organization."^ This custom is 
represented as having given own brothers, in the run 
of cases, wives unrelated to them ; and own sisters, in 
the run of cases, husbands unrelated to them. It 
must be assumed not to have made brother and sister 
marriages unlawful, since, by the hypothesis, it is re- 
served for the " tribal organization " to make them 
unlawful.^ But brothers and sisters having, de facto, 

^ For the argument, it is of no consequence that, in point of 
fact, the "Hawaian custom" has, in Mr. Morgan's explanation, 
nothing to do with giving the Malayan form. It cannot be over- 
looked' that Mr. Morgan's scheme represents the custom as an 
institution of " slow growth, and still slower diffusion among the 
nations," precedent to the appearance of the tribal organization. 

^ Mr. Morgan says, " It is to be inferred that the tribal organi- 
zation was designed to work out a reformation with respect to the 
intermarriages of brothers and sisters, from the conspicuous manner 
in which it accomplishes this result." This is said on the view that 
he had proved by his solution that these " communal marriages " of 
brothers and sisters were anciently universal. As no trace of them 
can now be found, he asks us to notice how conspicuously exogamy 
did its work — whether we can doubt, looking to the total disap- 
pearance of " communal marriages " of brothers and sisters, that 
exogamy had its origin in a reformatory movement to put an end to 
them. The reader, by referring to page 139, will find that Mr. 
Morgan there pretty fully explains the tribal organization as being 
exogamy, and also its connection with female kinship. He says 
(p. 140), " In a number of Indian nations descent is now limited to 


under the custom, in the run of cases, ceased to inter- 
marry or cohabit, the children of a man's sisters, as a 
rule, would not have been his children. This being so, 
were Mr. Morgan's Eeason sufficient, the " Hawaian 
custom," in giving the Malayan relationships, should 
have given them identical with the Turanian. The 
representation, however, is that this effect was not pro- 
duced, and that the custom allowed the children of a 
man's sister to be still accounted his children, the 
children of a man and those of his sister to be still 
accounted brothers and sisters. 

But the " tribal organization," as the reader may 
see (p. 490), is simply exogamy, the prohibition of 
marriage between persons of the same tribe of descent, 
or having the same family name or totem. . And exogamy 
prohibits marriage between brothers and sisters only 
when they are children of the same mother, or of mothers 
of the same blood. It follows from this that a man's 
son and his sister's daughter, while reputed brother and 
sister, would have been free, when the " tribal organiza- , 
tion " had been established, to intermarry, for they 
belonged to different tribes of descent. The man and 
his sister being of one blood, the son of the former and 
the daughter of the latter must, so far as the Hawaian 

the male line, with the same prohibition of intermarriage in the 
tribe, and the son succeeds to the father's office. There are reasons 
for believing that this is an innovation upon the ancient custom, 
a/nd that descent in the female line was once universal in the Gano- 
wdnian family." That kinship should change to the male line is 
what should be expected, according to the hypothesis set forth in 
Primitive Marriage. 


custom prevailed, have been of different bloods, whether 
kinship were traced through males or females only ; for 
the hypothesis is that the man was married to women 
unrelated to him, and his sister to men unrelated to her. 
Similarly, it appears that the "tribal organization" 
would have left the greater number of reputed brothers 
and sisters free to intermarry. According to the 
Malayan system, and under the Hawaian custom, so 
far as it prevailed, a man would have for sisters the 
daughters of his fathers by mothers of various tribes 
of descent, and with every one of them he could inter- 
marry, provided her mother was not of the same tribe 
as his own mother; the daughters of his fathers' own 
sisters, and with every one of them he could intermarry, 
for they were all, as we have seen, of a different tribe 
from his own j the daughters of his mother's own 
brothers, and with every one of them he could inter- 
marry, for none of his mother's brothers had a relative 
for wife. Exogamy would cut him off from his own 
sisters, but from these he was already, de facto, cut off 
by the " Hawaian custom." The precise extent of the 
new restriction on marriage, then, would be that a man 
would be cut off from marrying those of his " sisters " 
who were the daughters of the own sisters of his mother. 
Thus we see that the " tribal organization," coming after 
the " Hawaian custom," would not, in the run of cases, 
prevent the marriage of reputed brothers and sisters ; 
and so far, the features of the established system of 
relationships could not, or at least need not, have 
undergone a radical change. Mr. Morgan's Reason, 


then, is insufficient ; and his own assumptions make 
it appear to be unfounded. 

The preceding argument takes Mr. Morgan on his 
own ground, so far as it assumes " the Hawaian custom " 
to have been widely prevalent prior to the rise of 
exogamy. But even if we put that custom out of the 
field, Mr. Morgan's Eeason will not acquire validity. 
The process by which exogamy would dissolve the 
communal families would be a process by which — the 
Malayan system not being instantly transformed — 
there would be produced several sets of "brothers" 
and " sisters " free to intermarry for one set that would 
not be so free ; and therefore, so far as the Eeason goes, 
the system of relationships should remain unchanged. 
The reader will readily see the truth of this if he keeps 
in view how many of the multitude of " brothers " and 
" sisters " born of the first exogamous marriages would 
be free to intermarry — kinship as a bar to marriage 
being counted through women only. Unless, then, we 
could assume — what seems wholly inadmissible — that 
exogamy could transform the system of relationships 
in the course of a single generation, it appears that, 
by the means specified in the Eeason, it never could 
transform the system at all.^ 

1 If exogamy anciently recognized a broader kinsMp than that 
through females only, it rested with Mr. Morgan to show that. But he 
has not tried to do it. On the contrary, we shall presently see that he 
explains one of the features of the " Turanian" form by supposing 
" brother " and " sister " marriage on a grand scale to continue 
after the rise of exogamy ; viz. the mamage of " brothers " to those 
of their "sisters " who were, as we should say, " their cousins." 


Now to take another case. In the " Turanian " 
form — 

" All the children of my male cousins, myself a 
male, are my nephews and nieces, and all the children 
of my female coiisins are my sons and. daughters." 

Reason. — " Unless I cohabit with all my female 
cousins, and am excluded from cohabitation with aU 
the wives of my male cousins, these relationships cannot 
be explained from the nature of descents." 

Mr. Morgan has no custom or other reason to account 
for my ceasing to cohabit "with all the wives of my 
male cousins," who, according to " the privilege of 
barbarism," were my wives ; and he offers no explana- 
tion of my being, as a matter of course, husband to 
all my female cousins, who used to be my sisters, 
notwithstanding the prohibition of marriage between 
brothers and sisters. 

Again : in the " Ganowdnian " form, " all the 
children of my male cousins, myself a male, are my 
sons and daughters ; of my female cousins, are my 
nephews and nieces." 

Eeason. — This deviation, says Mr. Morgan, " in all 
probability has a logical explanation of some kind. If 
it is attributable to the slight variation upon the privi- 
lege of barbarism above indicated, a singular solution of 
the difference in the two systems is thereby afforded." 

The " slight variation " indicated is that the Eed. 
Men of America cohabited with all the wives of their 
male cousins, and were excluded from cohabiting with 
all their female cousins. Here there was room for 


imagining some reformatory movement in America 
counter to that wliich Asia had witnessed. But Mr. 
Morgan suggests no cause for such a variance in the 
marriage laws of the two continents, and hints at no 
evidence — apart from his solution — that there ever was 
such a variance. 

Looking more closely at the Eeasons given in the 
two eases last noticed, we reach results, some of which, 
had he perceived them, would have gratified Mr. 
Morgan. The Eeason in the " Ganowdnian " case makes 
me and my male cousins — who used to be " brothers " 
— have our wives in common, and these wives are no 
longer our female cousins who used to be our " sisters." 
We, who used to be " brothers," have in common our 
wives, who are strangers to us in blood. Here we have 
" the Hawaian custom." Our female cousins — formerly 
our " sisters," — from whom we are excluded, are no 
doubt living in communism with stranger husbands. 
Surprising as these results are, those derivable from the 
Reason in the Turanian case are still more remarkable. 
This reason makes me and my male cousins cohabit with 
our female cousins : it is thus that our female cousins' 
children are sons and daughters to us their male cousins. 
But cohabitation has ceased to, imply marriage ; for our 
female cousins, who used to be our wives, are our wives 
no longer, albeit we cohabit with them. We have wives 
however, and the peculiarity is that we, who are stiU 
communists with our female cousins, are either inter- 
dicted altogether from cohabiting with our wives, or 
each of us has wives with whom he alone has a right to 


cohabit. If the latter view must prevail, monandry- 
appears too soon for Mr. Morgan's scheme of develop- 
ment ; if the former, we have a new " singular solution " 
of the difficulty. It should not surprise us if in this 
wild dream — not to say nightmare — of early institu- 
tions, cohabitation having ceased to imply marriage, 
marriage should have ceased to imply cohabitation. 

No more need be said of explanations which not 
even their author can think satisfactory.'- 

^-^In attempting to explain the origin of the classi- 
ficatory system, Mr. Morgan made two radical mistakes. 
His first mistake was, that he did not steadily con- 
template the main peculiarity of the system — its classi- 
fication of the connected persons ; that he did not seek the 
origin of the system in the probable origin of the classi- 
fication. To attempt to solve the problem by explaining 
the relationships comprised in the system in detaU, was 
to take securities for failure. The second mistake, or 
rather I should say error, was to have so lightly assumed 
the system to be a system of blood-ties. From the 
second error he almost certainly would have been safe 
had he not fallen into the first. 

In the explanation of the system which I shall pre- 
sently ofi"er, the importance of attending to the classifi- 
cation of the related persons will be made sufficiently 
apparent. No more need here be said on thdt head. 
But the examination I have made of Mr. Morgan's 

solution may be fitly closed by some remarks on the 

1 [See Note B appended to this Essay.] 


assumption that the classificatory system is a system of 
blood-ties. For the following reasons I think that 
assumption was an error : — 

(1) It is apparent, on the slightest inspection of 
Mr. Morgan's tables, that " son " and " daughter," in the 
classificatory system, do not mean son or daughter " be- 
gotten by " or " born to " ; that " brother " and " sister " 
are terms which do not imply connection by descent 
from the same mother or father ; and that " mother " 
does not mean the bearing mother. From the analogies 
of the case, we must believe that " father ' does not mean 
the begetting father. It would be most extraordinary 
if " father " had had that meaning on the first emergence 
of men from the state of promiscuity, which is the 
Malayan case. These facts surely ought to have 
strongly suggested that the classificatory system cannot 
be a system of blood-ties at aU, for it appears incon- 
ceivable that the most stupid savages could form a 
system of blood- connections, disregarding the limitation 
of connections set by the obvious fact of motherhood.^ 

(2) The suggestion received from the non-natural 
senses in which the terms of relationships are employed 
is confirmed by the consideration that all, or almost all, 
the peoples using a form of the classificatory system, 
have, besides, some well-defined system of blood-ties — 

1 It seems almost incredible," says Mr. Darwin of Mr. Morgan's 
explanations at this point, " that the relationship of the child to its 
mother should ever be completely ignored, especially as the women 
in most savage tribes nurse their infants for a long timB." —Descent 
of Jfdn, second edition, p. 588. 


the system which traces blood-ties through women only, 
or some other. It is inconceivable that any people 
should have at the same time two and entirely different 
systems of hlood relationship. And it may be con- 
fidently affirmed that in every case it is the system 
which is unquestionably a system of blood-ties, and not 
the classificatory system, that alone is of practical force 
— which regulates the succession, for instance, to 
honours or estates. 

Of the fact that the system of kinship through 
females only existed among many peoples having the 
so-called " classificatory form of relationships," there can 
neither be doubt nor dispute. I make Mr. Morgan 
himself a witness as to the Iroquois. An Iroquois child 
is a relation of its mother, but not of its father. Mr. 
Morgan even goes so far as to say that among this 
people "no right in the father to the custody of his 
children's persons or to their nurture was recognized." 
Husband and wife having separate rights of property, 
the wife's property passes on her death to her children ; 
but when the husband dies, his property does not pass 
to his children. It passes to his sister's children—" his 
near relatives in his own tribe."^ A man's brother by 
the same mother is his near relation, and all who are 
related to him through his mother — tracing blood 
through women only — are his relations. Those rela- 
tions share with him the obligations of the blood-feud, 
and stand by him in all his quarrels. His brother by 
the same father only is not his blood-relation at all, if 
^ The League of the Iroquois, p. 327. 


their mothers are not kindred, and may be arrayed 
against him in his quarrels. The two are not only not 
of the same kindred ; they are of different tribal, and, it 
may be, of different national connections. " If a Cayuga 
woman," says Mr. Morgan, "married a Seneca, her 
children were Cayugas, and her descendants in the 
female line, to the latest posterity, continued to be 
Cayugas, although they resided with the Senecas, and 
by intermarriage with them had lost every particle of 
Cayuga blood. In the same manner, if a Mohawk 
married a Delaware woman, her children were not only 
Delawares but aliens." ' And what is true of one tribe 
or nation of the American Indians is, speaking broadly, 
true of all. "It is noticeable," says Schoolcraft, speak- 
ing of the Indians generally, "that they trace blood- 
kindred and consanguinities to the remotest ties — and 
that where there is a lapse of memory or tradition, the 
totem is confidently appealed to as the test of blood 
affinities, however remote. It is a consequence of the 
importance attached to this ancient family tie that no 
person is permitted to change or alter his totem, and 
that such a change is absolutely unknown." ^ The totem, 
here rightly called the test of kinship, is taken from the 
mother, who, belonging to a different tribe, has always 
a different totem from the father. But the " relation- 
ships " in the classificatory system have nothing to do 
with the totem, and embrace persons of numerous 
diverse totems. 

1 League of the Iroquois, p. 325. 

2 Indiom Tribes, Part I. p. 420. Philadelphia, 1853. 


Not only is the system of kinsliip through females 
only an undoubted system of blood-ties : it determines 
all successions ; the transmission of honours and offices ; 
the right of intermarriage ; the tribal connection, and 
all the duties and privileges of blood-relationship. What 
duties or rights are affected by the " relationships " 
comprised in the classificatory system ? Absolutely 
none. They are barren of consequences, except indeed 
as comprising a code of courtesies and ceremonial 
addresses in social intercourse. 

(3) That the classificatory system is a system of 
mutual salutations merely, appears from many of its 
peculiar features. For one thing, the names for relation- 
ships are framed as for use in addresses. They want 
generality. The relation of brother to sister, for 
instance, is unnamed ; in the Hawaian example of the 
Malayan form there is no name for brother or for sister. 
On the other hand, there are a variety of names for use 
in salutations between "brother" and "sister," accordins: 
to the age and sex of the person speaking in relation 
to the age and sex of the person addressed. And this 
peculiarity is shown, I believe, in almost every example 
of the classificatory system. Then, for another thing, 
Mr. Morgan has not shown that these relationships are 
of any force or effect whatever as blood-ties, while he 
has shown that they are in daily use for the purposes of 
mutual salutation, and has explained why, among the 
" Ganowanians " at least, a system of terms for this 
purpose was indispensable — a necessity. " The American 
Indians," he says (p. 132), " always speak to each other, 



when related, by the term of relationship, and never by 
the personal name of the individual addressed. In 
familiar intercourse, and in formal salutation, they 
invariably address each other by the exact relationship 
[of consanguinity or affinity] in which they stand 

related It is not only the custom to salute by 

kin, but an omission to recognize in this manner a 
relative would, amongst most of these nations, be a 
discourtesy amounting to an affront. In Indian society 
the mode of address when speaking to a relative is the 
possessive form of the term of relationship ; e.g. my 
father, my elder brother, my grandson, my nephew, my 
niece, my uncle, my son-in-law, my hrother-in-law, and 
so on throughout the recognized relationships. If the 
parties are not related, then my friend. . . . There is 
another custom which renders this one a practical 
necessity. From some cause, of which it is not neces- 
sary here to seek an explanation, an American Indian 
is reluctant to mention his own personal name. It 
would be a violation of good manners for an Indian to 
speak to another Indian by his name." Surely aU this 
points to the system being one of mutual salutations.^ 

In parting with Mr. Morgan 1 cannot refrain from 
making one or two observations on the scheme of pro- 
gress which he has put forward in connection with his 
conjectural solution. Two stages only of that scheme 
are employed in the solution ; the others are unsup- 
ported either by the solution or by evidence. Moreover, 
^ [See Note A appended to this Essay.] 


the parts of his scheme are far from being consistent 
with one another. "'The Barbarian family " (Stage ix.), 
for example, is exhibited "with the family name still 
unknown " (personal names having appeared), notwith- 
standing that exogamy, which strictly operates through 
totems and kobongs — in short, through " family names," 
— had appeared (Stage vi.) a very long time, possibly 
thousands of years before. Polygamy again (Stage x.) 
is exhibited as springing out of the " Hawaian custom " 
(Stage iv.) ; " the strongest of several brothers taking 
to himself all the wives and refusing to share them 
longer with his brothers." A simple natural fact is 
thus explained by a " custom " not known to have ever 
existed. The marriage of single pairs, too (Stage viii.) 
had long before been exhibited as normal, and yet it 
had left the " Hawaian custom " vitality enough to 
beget polygamy as normal. AVe are even asked to 
observe how polygamy, " a reformatory movement," put 
an end to the Hawaian custom that had outlived a 
practice of monandry. Polyandry next is exhibited 
(Stage xii.) as one of the consequences of this " refor- 
matory movement," and, as such, " requiring no farther 
notice." Lastly (Stage xiii.) appears, for the first time, 
the succession of sons to fathers, although a practice of 
monandry had (Stage viii.) been established ever so 
long, possibly many thousands of years, previously. 

I need not say that the whole of this scheme 
collapses with the conjectural solution in connection 
with which it was put forward. That solution, assign- 
ing for the phenomena of the classificatory system 

T 2 


causes not known to have ever operated, could not 
have ranked as a scientific hypothesis, however suc- 
cessfully the phenomena had been explained on the 
assumption that such causes were at one time in opera- 
tion. Failing to explain the phenomena, the solution 
must sink below the level of reasonable guessing, to 
which level, indeed, it must have sunk, even had it 
explained the phenomena, if by any other set of mere 
conjectures the phenomena could be equally well ex- 
plained. The space I have devoted to the consideration 
of the solution may seem disproportioned to its import- 
ance ; but issuing from the Press of the Smithsonian 
Institution, and its preparation appearing to have been 
aided by the United States Government, Mr. Morgan's 
work has been very generally quoted as a work of 
authority, and it seemed worth whUe to take the 
trouble necessary to show its utterly unscientific 



It cannot be doubted tbat the classificatory system 
in the Malayan form illustrates a very early social 
condition of man. We must also believe, from its 
connecting itself with the family, that it had its origin 
in some early marriage-law. Indeed, an examination 
of the leading points of difference presented by the 
various forms of the classificatory system leaves no doubt 
that the phenomena presented in all the forms are 
ultimately referable to the marriage-law; and that 
accordingly its origin must be so also. 

Though a system of modes of addressing persons — 
which, for reasons already sufl&ciently explained, I take 
the classificatory system to be — must have grown up 
with greater freedom than a system of kinship that 
inferred rights and obligations, it seems reasonable to 
believe that the system of blood-ties and the system of 
addresses would begin to grow up together, and for 
some little time have a common history. If so, one 
should look to the same set of circumstances for the 
origin of both. Now the rise of the system of kinship 


through females only, and the subsequent development 
of kinship, have been made the subject of an hypothesis. 
It will be a test of that hypothesis to see whether, while 
explaining the history of kinships, it will also account 
for the rise of such a system as the classificatory system 
of addresses ; and it wUl be confirmatory of any pre- 
sumptions otherwise existing in its favour, should the 
hypothesis stand the test — especially considering that 
the phenomena of the classificatory system were not 
as yet collected when the hypothesis was framed. 

I propose then to see whether the classificatory 
system can be explained on the hypothesis stated in 
Primitive Marriage, that the first form of the family 
was the Nair, founded on Nair polyandry, and the 
second the Tibetan, founded on Tibetan polyandry. 
These two types of marriage-law and of the family have 
been traced so extensively that in assigning them as 
causes of the phenomena of the classificatory system no 
one can question that I assign real, and not imaginary 
causes. And first of the classificatory system in its 
Malayan form : — 

1. Origin of the Malayan form of the classificatory 
system of relationships. 

As I propose to make more or less use in this expo- 
sition, by way of illustration, of the terms used in the 
Hawaian, which is the most complete, example of the 
Malayan form, it will be convenient to attend for a 
moment to a few of these respecting which we have 
(p. 452) some information from Judge Andrews : — 

1, The Hawaians have no definite term for father 


[or for mother] : mkua, signifies parent, male or female. 
If we wish to say father or mother we add kane [kana], 
male, or wahina [waheena], female. 

2. The Hawaian has no specific word for son [or 
for daughter]. Keiki signifies child, or originally the 
little : iki, little, small ; the article ke has in modern 
times become prefixed. 

To express the idea of son or daughter, the words 
kana = male, waheena = female, must be added. Son = 
little one male ; daughter = little one female.^ 

3. The Hawaian has no word for brother [or for 
sister] in the sense of the languages of Western Europe. 
The word h6ahanau, from hoa, companion, and hanau, 
born, is of common gender, and is seldom used in 
speaking of one born of the same parents.^ 

4. Wahine or waheena, which appears in Mr. Morgan's 
tables as meaning " wife," and is applied to a variety of 
difi"erent persons, as well as to a wife, e.g. wife's sister, 
brother's wife, &c., means literally " female," a woman ; 
and kane or kana, which appears in the tables as 
" husband," " husband's brother," and "sister's husband," 
means literally " male," a man.' 

1 In the Indo-Germanio speeches the terms for " son " and 
" daughter " have the same meanings, viz. child male and child 
female. — See Dr. Deecke's Die Deutschenwerwandschqftsnamen. 
Weimar, 1870. 

^ Mr. Andrews simply adds, " I have used the terms hdahanaii 
and hdahanaii wahine [waheena] for brothers and sisters, because 
they may be so used, and without them / covid not go on with the 
degrees of relationships." 

8 While the language is thus poor in terms to denote persons of 
the highest importance in a system of blood-ties, it is rich in terms 


5. There are of course no special terms for father's 
brother or mother's brother, or for father's sister or 
mother's sister. They are all equally mMa, parents, 
distinguished as male or female by the addition of kana 
or waheena ; thus makua kana signifies a male parent, 
and makua waheena a female parent. 

6. There are no terms for grandfather or grand- 
mother. Kupuna, common gender, means an ancestor 
of any degree above that of mkiia. There are no terms 
for grandson or granddaughter. Moopuna, common 
gender, means a grandchild. With kana or waheena 
added, it means grandson or granddaughter. 

Let us now contemplate the classificatory system, as 
it appears in the Hawaian example, apart from the 
details on which Mr. Morgan founded his solution. 
What we find is this, that "the Hawaians have held, 
pure and simple, to the five primary grades of relatives " 
(p. 454), according to the Chinese text: "all men who 
are born into the world have five ranks of relatives. 
My own generation is one grade ; my father's is one ; 
and my grandfather's is one. Thus above me there are 
two grades. My son's generation is one grade, and my 
grandson's is one; thus below me are two, grades of 
relations : including myself in the estimate, there are 

required in a nomenclature of courtesies. There are no terms for 
brother and sister, but there are terms by which a younger brother 
or a younger sister may address an elder of the same sex, and vice 
versd ; and terms by which a sister may address an older brother, 
and even a term by which a brother may address a sister older than 
himself. There are also terms for use iri addressing various relations 
in law.. 


five grades." Let us arrange these grades to the eye, 
and name them as they are named in the Hawaian 

1st Generation = Kupuna = my grandparents. 

2nd Generation = MkAa = my parents. 

3rd Generation [no name], I and those of my 

4th Generation = Kaikee or Keiki = my children. 

5th Generation = Moopuna = my grandchildren. 

The names applied to the persons in each generation 
are, we have seen, of common gender. A man of the 
grade is named by adding kana = male, to the grade 
name ; a woman, by adding waheena = female. 

We do not know the meaning of the names of the 
grades, except that that of the fourth is " little ones," 
from "iki," little. The other terms have not been 
phUologicaUy examined, as it is desirable they should 
be, but their precise meaning is not essential to the 
present purpose, for we may be certain, meantime, that 
such a term in common gender as " mktia " did not 
explicitly, at least at first, convey the idea of begetting 
father or bearing mother, much less both ideas in 

It is obvious that in these five grades there is a 
reduplication, and that all the real relationships can be 
illustrated from a family containing persons of three 

Let us then suppose a family of the Nair type to 
contain persons of three generations as follows : — 

First generation, comprising one or more women, 


and one or more men, with, say, one or more men or 
women remaining over from an earlier generation^ 
(= Kupuna). 

Second generation, comprising tlie children of the 
women of the first ( Mktia). 

Third generation, comprising the children of the 
women of the second (= Keiki). 

This family is held together solely by uterine ties, 
and all its members, if they think of the matter at all, 
trace their descent back to a common mother. In the 
house there are no husbands of any of the women, and 
no wives of any of the men. The men have their wives 
in various other houses, and the women similarly have 
their husbands in various other houses. The group 
contains no " begetting " father of any of the children ; 
but the men of the group are, of course, the natural 
protectors of aU the cliddren.^ 

In a household of this type, the women marrying 
while yet young, there probably would be found persons 
of as many as five generations, though, not to com- 

1 It is a feature of the system that these are " Kupuna " equally 
■with the others. 

2 It is to a group of this sort that we must refer " avus " = 
protector = old man of the first generation in the family supposed 
above, i.e. " grandfather " ; avunculus = younger protector = 
"mother's brother," "father" to all the children of his sisters = 
man of the second generation. Indeed, we may well believe, on 
the analogies of Indo-Germanic speech, that mkfia had the sense of 
" protector " or " guardian." " Father," and " brother " used as a 
general term, equally mean protector or guardian ; and " mother's 
brother," as we have just seen, means the same thing. (See Dr. 
Deecke's work, loc. cit.) 


plicate the matter, I take, as the case to deal with, a 
family with — practically — three generations only. It is 
obvious, that there being no common father or mother, 
the members of the family cannot be affiliated as in a 
family derived from a pair. Yet, in their intercourse 
they must have terms by which to address one another ; 
and personal (individual) names not being in use — an 
invincible prejudice against the use of them being 
general among backward races '■ — the terms employed 
must be general terms, applicable " to the members of 
the family in classes." Indeed, apart from this con- 
sideration, it is obvious that they fall naturally into 
classes, and that the convenience of naming these would 
be the greater the more numerous the classes. What 
the name should be for those of the third generation in 
the household supposed is obvious enough. They are 
" the little ones " (keiki) of the family, but wiU be so 
called only by those of the second generation, which 
comprises their mothers, to whom they directly belong 
— the persons in that generation continuing to be called 
keiki by the generation above. Those of the first 
generation are as clearly "the oldest," whether they 
shaU as a class be named from that fact or not. But 
they will be called "the oldest" (kupuna) only by those 
of the third generation — the second generation con- 
tinuing to them the name applied to them when there 
was in the family a generation above them ; some 
members of which, indeed, as we have supposed, may 

1 Schuyler, vol. i. p. 40, says even of the Kirghiz that they are 
not allowed to use the real names of their relations. 


still survive. Those of the second generation will be to 
those of the third mMa — say elders, which, in their 
turn, those of the first are to them. Lastly, to those of 
the first those of the third wiU be, say, " little ones' 
little ones " (moopuna). If any members of a genera- 
tion earlier than the first survive, " the little ones' Httle 
ones " will probably class them with " the oldest," and 
not have a special term for them ; while by " the elders " 
they will be properly named so far as they are of no 
more than one generation before the first. As the 
members of any class must address one another as well 
as members of the other classes, we shall see a necessity 
for a new series of terms. The class name comprising 
them aU, they will address one another by terms varying 
with the seniority, or juniority, or sex of the person 
addressed. And these terms will be of use in all the 

Suppose such a system of class names in use in the 
Nair families of a district, and I think we may see the 
origin of the Malayan system, by considering what 
would be the efi"ects upon the nomenclature of the 
transition from Nair to Tibetan polyandry. We shall 
see that whatever the class names signified at first, keiki 
inevitably must come to signify child ; mkAa, parent ; 
moopuna, grandchild ; and kupuna, grandparent. 

Though I have supposed this typical Nair family to 
be of one household, i.e. under one roof, the supposition 
has been made for the sake of clearness merely. It is a 
supposition, however, which the facts of primitive life 
would fairly justify. At the same time it is obvious. 


that the filiation of the members of such a family to 
one another, and their arrangement in classes for that 
purpose, are independent of their aU having a common 
home, and would, if once established, survive the re- 
solution of the family into sub-groups in separate 

That resolution was an inevitable consequence in 
time of the special blood-bonds between mothers and 
their own children, and between uterine brothers and 
sisters. Accordingly, the Nair household would in time 
come to be constituted, as it is described by Buchanan, 
a mother and her sons and daughters living together 
under the same roof, together, of course, with the 
daughters' children. The various ways in which this 
separation of homes would be brought about are suffi- 
ciently explained by the authorities cited in Primitive 
Marriage, p. 100 ; and at p. 104 it will be seen that I 
have explained how the separation of homes would not 
at once have the effect of disrupting the family bond 
between those who, if the separation had not occurred, 
would have been all of one family. They would long 
remain and be classed as members of one family, as if 
they were all still of one household. 

Let us now see how the type of the family must 
have been altered in the course of the transition from 
Nair to Tibetan polyandry. 

The cases which would favour a beginning of 
Tibetan polyandry would be those in which a mother 
and her sons and daughters had a home to themselves. 
The sons and daughters when grown up would, not- 


withstanding the separate home, remain affiliated to 
their mother's family (call it A), and would class in it, 
say, as mkua. 

If, now, we suppose the brothers to take a wife into 
then- home from another family (B), and their wife and 
their sisters to have children — the sisters by their Nair 
husbands — we shall have the following results : — 

1. The wife having entered family A as a member by 

marriage, must class in that family with her hus- 
bands and their sisters. She will therefore be of 
class mklia in A ; but by birth she is already of 
class mkAa in B. 

2. The children born to her and her husbands' sisters 

are keiki in A. Some of them are her own 
children, and wUl call her makua waheena — and 
all the children can have but one name for her. 
She will be makua waheena to all the children of 
A ; but by birth she is makua waheena to all the 
children of B. 

3. The men of B (class mkua) are makua kana to their 

sisters' children by immemorial usage, and will 
long continue to be so after these are born to her 
in another family. Her keiki will call them makua 
kana ; but that is what they call the men of A 
(class mkua). 

4. Similarly, the women of B (class mktia) wiU continue 

to be makua waheena to their sisters' keiki, though 
born in A. The keiki of A will call them makua 


waheena, which is what they call the women (class 
mkAa) of A. 
5. The new relationship thus introduced will, through 
the force of old custom, have full effect throughout 
all the classes in the connected houses. The elder 
people who are mktia to those persons in both 
houses who are mktia to a woman's keiki, will to 
these keiki be kupuna, and the keiki to them moo- 
puna. The wife's children will thus class as keiki 
in the fullest sense in both families. 
When Tibetan polyandry has come to supersede, or 
greatly preponderate over, Nair polyandry, the men 
(class mkiia) of a household wiU, as a rule, be all 
brothers uterine, and the women (class mkua), except 
any wife, will, as a rule, be sisters uterine. The sisters, 
when of age, leave the household to become wives in 
other homes, and the brothers take into their home a 
wife between them. Whatever the various class names 
meant originally, they will now acquire definite signifi- 
cations, as if they were relative to descents. The 
brothers' wife will be own mother to all the keiki in 
their house ; the brothers will be their fathers ; and the 
keiki wiU be own brothers and sisters. The keiki will 
still call their mother makua waheena, however, and their 
fathers makua kana. And these terms will come accord- 
ingly to mean father and mother respectively. But 
these class names being, by force of custom, as compre- 
hensive as formerly, it will follow that the father's 
sisters, in whatever family they are as wives, being 
" makua waheena " to their brothers' children, will be 


their "mothers," and so, too, on precisely the same 
grounds, the sisters of the own mother of the children 
will be. Their father's brothers will, of course, be their 
" fathers," ^ and so will their mother's brothers. Far- 
ther, the keiki, classing as such at once in the family of 
their birth, and in that of their taother's birth, will 
come to be " brothers and sisters " of all the children 
counting as keiki in the two families, i.e. of their 
father's sisters' children, and their mother's sisters' chil- 
dren, and mother's brothers' children, and, of course, of 
their father's brothers' children, should any of the 
brothers make separate marriages. In short, they will 
as keiki be " brothers " and " sisters " of all the children 
of every person entitled to be classed as mktia, in any 
family, with their mother or mother's sisters or brothers, 
or liieir father or father's sisters or brothers. And these 
new and widely-extended relationships will, through the 
force of custom, have their full effect throughout all the 
classes in the connected houses. Those who are mkAa, 
in any house, to those called makua kana or makua 
waheena by any children will, to the children, be 
kupuna, and the children to them moopuna. AVhen in 
turn the keiki grow up and class as mktia, the children 
of all of them, as far as the newly-extended class goes, 
will to their mk<lla be moopuna, and the latter kupuna 
to these children. In short, the changes due to causes 
affecting only the classes of mkAa and keiki, broaden 

1 See post, p. 289. Their father's brothers, even if not co- 
husbands of their mother, would, as classing mkfla with their father, 
be to them makua kana, i.e. " fathers." 


these classes without otherwise disturbing their relations 
to the other classes — ascending or descending. 

Marriage relationships being now recognized, we 
may see how relatives in law come to be classed and 
take their place in the system. To explain this in one 
case will be to explain it in all. Take the husband of 
one's father's sister — father's brother-in-law. My father's 
sister is to me makAa waheena ; I to her am keiki. But 
her keiki are her husband's — if not as a direct conse- 
quence of usage, then by courtesy, which even among 
ourselves is strong enough to have such an effect. On 
another view, on a marriage, the wife classes mk^a in the 
husband's famUy, and the husband classes as mkua in 
the wife's family. It is a direct consequence of this 
that my father's and mother's brothers-in-law should be 
to me maklia kana, i.e. " fathers," and their sisters-in- 
law mak-da waheena, i.e. " mothers." 

The reader will see that in this way every feature of 
the Malayan system is fuUy and simply accounted for. 
Also he wUl see, what I have pointed out in a footnote 
{ante, p. 288), that from the manner in which they are 
accounted for, they might as well be accounted for as 
consequences of the sons and daughters of houses of 
the Nair type making monandrous marriages, as by their 
making Tibetan polyandrous marriages. For my father's 
brothers, classing as mkAa with my father, wUl be to me 
maklia kana, i.e. " fathers," whether they are co-husbands 
with my father or not. But we shall immediately see 
strong reasons for believing that the system was maialy 
an effect of Tibetan polyandry, to the production of which 



effect a growing practice of monandry could, from the 
nature of the case, oppose no obstacle. And I have pre- 
sented the explanation of the Malayan form in its present 
shape accordingly. Speaking broadly, the explanation 
of the Malayan form comes to this : 1, A necessity or con- 
venience for classifying kindred united in families whUe 
as yet husbands and wives did not live together within 
the same family ; and 2, The broadening of the classes 
of kindred thus arising through the connection of 
families by marriage, on wives passing as a rule into 
the families of their husbands. 

I now proceed to consider, — 

2. The origin of the "Turanian" and " Ganowd- 
nian " forms of the classifoatory system. 

In these forms of the classificatory system every 
feature of the Malayan form remains undisturbed, ex- 
cept that the class of keiki has beein disrupted, and 
certain of its members put in a new class as cousins ; 
and that along with cousinry has come the relationship 
of uncle and aunt to nephew and niece, and consequently 
a disturbance in the class of mktia. Beyond this no 
change has occurred. If I formerly belonged to the 
class mkAa, for instance, the children of those who 
used to be my keiki, and have become my nephews 
and nieces, are still my grandchildren (moopuna). I to 
them am grandfather — kupuna, — and my mkAa are the 
kupuna of my nephews and nieces. When we seek the 
precise limits of the change, again, we see that the 
children of several brothers are classed together keiki 


as before ; and so are tli.e children of several sisters ; 
and that the new class of cousins comprises only the 
children of several sisters, in relation to the children of 
their several brothers. 

When we consider these facts a little, we shall see 
that those remaining classed together as keiki are all 
of one blood, tribe, or kinship, and that those classed 
as cousins are of diflferent bloods, tribes, or kinships. 

Eecurring to my hypothesis : with female kinship 
stOl prevailing, the children of several brothers are 
necessarily of one blood, tribe, or kinship, namely, that 
of their mother, the wife of the brothers of a house 
under Tibetan polyandry. The children of several 
sisters are also necessarily of one blood, tribe, or kin- 
ship, namely, that of their mothers, who are of one 
blood. And the children of the brothers are, neces- 
sarily, of a different blood from the children of the 
sisters — if exogamy is the law. The brothers and their 
sisters being of the same blood, the brothers' children 
are of a different blood, for the brothers must marry 
a woman of a different blood from themselves, and their 
children are of the mother's blood. 

In the Nair stage there had been but one blood in 
a family. Its members were all of one tribe or kin- 
ship, and could be of no other ; for exogamy, if it were 
then law, would be of importance only in limiting the 
women of the house in their choice of husbands. This 
homogeneity of the family was destroyed at once on 
polyandry becoming Tibetan. The brothers' wife and 
her children were then of a different blood and kinship 

u 2 


from that of the old Nair family to wMch the brothers 
belonged ; and that fact could not fail to teU in time 
upon the system in use for the purposes of mutual 

To the various ways and degrees in which the 
pressure of that fact upon that system was yielded to 
in different areas, we may refer all the diflferences in 
the forms of the classificatory system. 

In proceeding to consider these differences as they 
appear in the " Turanian " and " Ganowd,nian " forms, 
it will be convenient, though merely for the purposes 
of exposition, to think of those forms as having been 
developed out of the Malayan form. We have no 
-reason to believe, however, that they ever passed 
through what may be called the Malayan stage — no 
ground for doubting that they, in the course of a single 
movement, became what they now are. It may reason- 
ably be supposed that exogamy was law as early as the 
Nair stage ; and exogamy might have acted instantly 
on the system of addresses, as it formed itself under 
the influence of Tibetan polyandry. All the peoples 
having the classificatory system in the "Turanian" 
or "Ganowdnian" forms are, or were, exogamous. 
Whether the Hawaians, and those few tribes connected 
with them by the Malayan form, are exogamous I 
cannot ascertain. If they are not, the Malayan form 
is precisely what it might, on that footing, be expected 
to be ; if they are, the Hawaian case is a proof that 
the pressure of exogamy on the system might be 
resisted. We shall see in the other cases to be noticed 


that it was not a pressure incapable of being partially 
resisted ; that in some cases its effects were less than, 
or different from what tbey were in others. At any 
rate, it will readUy be seen that it is immaterial to the 
explanation now to be offered whether exogamy acted 
on the system of addresses instantly, or only began to 
act upon it after it had assumed the Malayan form. 
It is worthy of notice that exogamy may not, from the 
first establishment of the family, have been the law. 
As I showed in Primitive Marriage (pp. 116 and 124) 
many years since, an extensive practice of polyandry 
may long retard, and even prevent, the rise of exogamy. 

We have seen that with exogamy prevailing, the 
children of brothers wiU be of a different blood from 
the children of their sisters — who represent the old 
Nair family. This is reason enough why the brothers' 
children should no longer be classed as keiki along with 
those of the sisters. Ceasing to be keiki along with 
them, they are put in a new class and called their 
cousins. Their fathers' sister becomes their aunt, and 
they her nephews and nieces ; and, on the principle 
of reciprocity, the sisters' children become nephews and 
nieces to the brothers, and the brothers become their 

The first five distinctive features {ante, p. 262) of 
the " Turanian " and " Ganowdnian " forms are thus 
simply accounted for. It will be observed, however, 
that it was not inevitable that exogamy should produce 
all of these effects. For instance, the brothers are of 
the same blood as their sisters' children. It was not 


inevitable, therefore, that they should cease to be 
maMa kana to their sisters' children ; and if they 
ceased to be so, it was only on the principle of reci- 
procity, because the sisters ceased to be maMa waheena 
to their children. But the principle of reciprocity was 
capable of a contrary application : the brothers con- 
tinuing to be maktia kana to their sisters' children, that 
is, the sisters would continue to be makiia waheena to 
theirs. This explains what we find among the Crow 
and Minnitaree, and in one or more of the Athapascan 
nations of American Indians (see Morgan, p. 148). 
And in precisely the same way may be explained the 
absence of terms for nephew and niece among a few of 
the American tribes {Morgan, p. 148). The sisters' 
children being of one blood with their mother's brother 
may continue to be his keiki — after cousinry has been 
instituted. And they being called by him keiki, his 
children will, on the principle of reciprocity, be called 
keiki by his sister. This will be not inconsistent with 
a change in the relative terms — ^with the brother 
becoming uncle and the sister aunt to the children of 
each other respectively. It wUl be seen that, on the 
view I am taking, the institution of cousinry was 
inevitable — cousins being of different kinships — but 
that none of the other usual accompaniments of it 
were inevitable. 

It remains for me to offer — 
3. Explanations of the differences bettveen the 
" Ganowdnian " and " Turanian " forms. 


These differences are noted ante, p. 262. They are 
as follows : — 

(1.) In the Ganowdnian form the children of my 
male cousins, myself a male, are my sons and daughters, 
and the children of my female cousins are my nephews 
and nieces. 

(2.) In the Turanian form aU the children of my 
male cousins, myself a male, are my nephews and nieces, 
whUe all the children of my female cousins are my sons 
and daughters. 

What has happened in the first case is easUy ac- 
counted for. I used to be makfta kana to the children 
of all my cousins when my cousins and I were of one 
class. I am now mak^a kana to the children only of 
my male cousins — who used to be my brothers. Now, 
men are stiU maktia kana — " fathers " — to their brothers' 
children. I have ceased to be maklia kana to the 
children of my female, cousins, who used to be my 
sisters ; these children have become my nephews and 
nieces. And men are now uncles to their sisters' chil- 
dren. It appears, then, that though we have come to 
be called cousins, the disturbance due to the test of 
blood, while following the natural line so far as it goes, 
has been the least that, following that line, it could 
have been. My male cousin's son is called my son, as 
he formerly was, and as my brother's son now is. My 
female cousia's son has applied to him the term now 
given to my own sister's son. There has been no dis- 
turbance ta the relationships arising to one brother 
through another, and (no doubt in some way as a 


consequence of that) there has been no disturbance, as 
there might have been, in the relationships arising to 
one male cousin through another. There has been a 
disturbance in the relationships arising to a brother and 
sister through each other ; and the same amount of 
change has been made in the relationships arising 
between male and female cousins through each other. 
Here, then, is a simple case of imperfect development. 
Practically the relationships arising to cousins through 
each other are the same as if they had been brother 
and sister instead of cousins. In fact, attention among 
the " Ganowdnians " seems to have been exclusively 
fixed upon the women as the persons through whom it 
was that blood ties were created ; and no change was 
made in the case of relationships arising to men through 
other men. 

The second case requires closer consideration, and 
it is necessary to set forth all the facts of it, which are 
given by Mr. Morgan in his analysis of the Tamilian 
system {Morgan, footnote, pp. 387, ff). 

{a) Myself a male, my male cousin's children are 
my nephews and nieces. 

(6) Myself a male, my female cousin's children are 
my children. 

(c) Myself a female, my male cousin's children are 
my children. 

{d) Myself a female, my female cousin's chiLdren are 
my nephews and nieces. 

Under the Malayan form, the children in each case 
would be my children. Cases (6) and (c) are true to 


the Malayan form, i.e. I, a male, and my female cousin, 
are still addressed as parents of each other's children. 

To begin with the simplest case, which is case {d). 
It is plain that my female cousin and I, a female, being 
of different bloods, her children also and I (kinship 
being traced through the mother) are of different bloods. 
The new terms evolved under the influence of the idea 
of blood are accordingly applied to my relationship with 
them. I become their aunt, and they become my 
nephews and nieces. 

Take next case {a). My male cousin and I, a male, 
are strangers in blood. His children do not follow him 
in blood ; but unless there is between them and me 
a connection not made through him, plainly they and 
I are strangers in blood, and the new terms applicable 
primarily to connections, not regarded as blood- 
relations, are those which are properly applicable to 
us. It was by no means, however, of necessity that 
those terms should be applied. A blood-connection 
between the children of male cousins, made in frequent 
cases through their mothers — a connection which would 
make them "brothers," and the one cousin, therefore 
the father, rather than the uncle, of the other's children 
— might have prevented the application of them, even 
in cases where no such blood-connection existed. And 
the mere force of ancient usage might have had the 
same effect. We have seen that among the American 
Indians the old terms were continued in this case. 
Except the difficulty of making any change, however, 
there can have been no powerful cause in action to 


retard the application in this case of the new terms 
among the " Turanians," and very probably there was 
some cause in action which, making it obvious in very 
frequent cases that a man's children and his male 
cousin's children were of different bloods, accelerated 
their application. A cause which might have so 
operated we shall immediately have to notice. 

There remain the two cases (6) and (c) in which the 
Malayan form has been followed. They certainly are 
cases in which this could not have been looked for ; for 
when a man's sister's son, though of his blood, has 
become his nephew, and his male cousin's son is also 
his nephew, it is extraordinary that his female cousin's 
son (who is not of his blood) should remain his son. 
It is safe to say that there must have been some 
powerful and widely-operating cause, the action of 
which in this case arrested change. That cause, 
too, must have been connected with the marriage 

A prevalence of cousin-marriages in the early times 
of the Turanian peoples — for cousins not being of the 
same blood were free to intermarry — would be a full 
explanation. Where a male cousin married his female 
cousin, the children would truly be at once the children 
of the male cousin and of the female cousin.^ And 

^ See Buchanan's Jowrney from Madras through Mysore, die. 
vol. iii. p. 16, for a case in which a man was bound to marry one 
female cousin — his mother's brother's daughter. In this case a 
man's children were not his heirs. His heirs were his sisters and 
their children. 


it is to the frequency of cousin-marriages, and of 
other marriages tkrough which, though not between 
cousins, the one cousin's children were of the other 
cousin's tribe and blood (which brother's and sister's 
children never could be), that I think the pre- 
servation of the old terms must in those two cases be 
referred. In cousin-marriages, too, and other marriages 
having the same effect as cousin-marriages as regards 
blood — through which, that is, a man's children and his 
maZe-cousin's children would not be of the same tribe or 
blood — which would be the effect, for example, of two 
male cousins marrying each other's sisters) we may find 
the accelerating force that seemed to be required for the 
establishment between a man and his male-cousin's son 
of the relation of uncle and nephew. 

There is nothing violent in the supposition of a fre- 
quency of cousin-marriages and other marriages having 
the same effect upon blood ; indeed, in the small and 
scattered communities of early times, it is difficult to be- 
lieve that cousin-marriages, being allowed, were infrequent. 
Something very far short of a practice of them might well 
suffice to preserve (in cases h and c) the nomenclature 
of address, which had immemorial custom in its favour ; 
especially if supported by a frequency of marriages 
through which the same effects as regards blood 
would be produced — through which, that is, the 
children of a male cousin would be of the same 
blood as those of his female cousin. To believe 
in the frequency of marriages of the latter sort is 
simply to believe that the persons within a community 


between whom tlie jus connubii existed were given 
to marrying one another, which requires no eflfort ; and 
this alone might have been almost enough to keep the 
old nomenclature in use. 

It wUl be evident that the hypothesis that Tibetan 
polyandry succeeded Nair polyandry as a normal stage 
of progress is essential to my explanation of the Tura- 
nian and Ganowdnian forms of the classificatory system. 
If brothers made separate marriages, I can see no reason 
why their children should not have been classed as 
cousins. If we could assume that there existed a pretty 
uniform practice of brothers of one family marrying 
sisters of another, or women of the same tribe or blood, 
we shotdd have such a reason ; but I am not aware of 
a practice of this sort on a scale to justify our making 
such an assumption. On the other hand, Tibetan poly- 
andry we know to have been common, and to have left 
traces everywhere in the laws of succession ; and we 
know it, moreover, in connection with the very fact 
to which the broadening of the class connections has 
been ascribed — the change from non-cohabitation of 
husbands and wives to cohabitation ; from their being 
resident in different families, that is, to their residing 
together in the same family. Tibetan polyandry seems, 
then, essential to the explanation of the Turanian and 
Ganowd,nian forms. To the explanation of the Malayan 
it is not essential. But if, which is not impossible 
(though I have shown that it is not certain), aU the 
forms had a common history, so far as their development 
to the Malayan form is concerned, it becomes very 


probable tliat Tibetan polyandry was a factor in deter- 
mining the Malayan form. Moreover, if the Hawaians, 
and those connected with them by the Malayan form, 
are not exogamous, we may be sure they passed through 
a full experience of polyandry in all its phases ; and this 
consideration increases the probability that the disrup- 
tion of the family of the Nair type among them was not 
owing to a practice of monandry. 

At any rate, I venture to think that all the features 
of the more primitive forms of the classificatory system 
have now been accounted for on a hypothesis which was 
framed independently of them, and while they were yet 
unknown, if it be not also proved that that hypothesis is 
absolutely necessary to the explanation of them. On 
the same hypothesis the Esquimo form of the classi- 
ficatory system can easily be accounted for ; but the 
consideration of this, and of the transition from the 
classificatory form to the descriptive, must be reserved 
for another occasion. My impression is that the study 
of that transition may yet be made to throw much new 
light on the primitive condition of man, and to demon- 
strate that all the races of men have had, to speak 
broadly, a development from savagery of the same 
general character. 




[the classificatory system. 

[Mr. Morgan was not the first to l1 escribe the classificatory 
system of the Iroquois ; and his account of it, though derived 
from his own observations and not from any authority, might, 
up to a certain point, huve been taken bodily from Lafitau, 
who wrote in 1724. The use of its terms between relations 
was explained alike by both,^ and Lafitau also showed that this 
was not peculiarly Indian but had prevailed among other 
peoples. In regarding the terms as for the use of blood 
relations only (see supra, page 274), and as always employed to 
denote blood-relationship, however, Mr. Morgan parted company 
with the earlier writer. For Lafitau distinctly mentions that, 
among the Indians, " my brother," " my father," " my child," 
" my nephew," and so forth, were conventional modes of saluta- 
tion, severally addressed to people in proportion to the dis- 
tinction in which they were held. He tells us that they were 
commonly applied — as relative age and station determined — 
not only to all fellow-tribesmen and friends but to strangers 
(and he might have said, even to enemies) ; and that this was 
because of the objection the Indians had to being addressed by 
name. The terms of the classificatory system were, therefore, 
according to Lafitau, not only used where there was no blood- 
relationship, but were terms of address universally employed ; and 
were commonly used without thought of blood-relationship — to 
indicate not degrees of blood-relationship but simply degrees of 

* Mosurs des Sauvages Americains, Comparees avec Mceurs des Premiers 
Temps. Par le P. Lafitau de la Compagne de Jesus. Paris, 1724. 2 vols. 
(See vol. i. p. 552.) 



respect. " Commun^ment," lie says,^ " les sauvages ne s'enten- 
dent pas volontier nommer par le nora qui leur est affect^, et la 
demande qu'on leur en feroit est une espfece d' affront qui les 
feroit rougir. En se parlant les uns aux autres, ils se donaent 
tous des noms de parents, de frere, de soeur, d'oncle, de neveu, 
&c. observant exactement les degris de subordination et toutes les 
■proportions de I'age h, moins qu'il n'y ait une parents r^elle par le 
sang ou par adoption ; car alors un enfant se trouvera quelque- 
fois le grandpere de ceux qui, selon I'ordre de la nature, pour- 
roient Itre facilement le sien. lis pratiquent la mgme civilitd k 
I'egard des etrangers, h. qui ils donnent, en leur parlant, des 
noms de consanguinity, comme s'il y avait une vrai liaison du 
sang, plus proche ou plus eloign^e k proportion de I'honneur 
qu'ils veulent leur faire, coutume qui Nicolas de Damas rapporte 
aussi des anciens peuples de Scythie." 

Mr. Morgan's statement that every person who was not a 
relative was, among the Indians, addressed, not by any of the 
classificatory terms, but as " my friend," was consistent with his 
theory (which, indeed, could not have been formed without 
it) that the terms of the classificatory system were descriptive 
of acknowledged blood-relationships. But the theory and the 
statement fail together if we must accept the evidence of Lafitau. 
If Lafitau is right, the classificatory terms were, among the 
Iroquois, terms of address ; everybody used them (that is, 
commonly used them) whether addressing a relative or not ; 
and, in general, they certainly did not carry any implication of 
blood-relationship, but were used to indicate the respect due 
from the speaker to the age and station of the person spoken of. 
And that Lafitau was right (though, no doubt, the phrase " my 
friend " might have been used in speaking to a person who was 
not a relative) is simply unquestionable. One cannot read 
much of any early writer on the American Indians without 
finding the terms which it is natural for us to speak of as terms 
of relationship, and which it has become convenient to describe 
as classificatory, interchanged, as Lafitau said they were, between 
persons who clearly were not relations. And, indeed, it is doubtful 
whether any writer before Mr. Morgan ever thought of them 
except as forming a system of modes of address varying with 
the degree of deference demanded or desired to be shown. An 
apt example of the way in which they were used occurs in the 
Documents Belative to the Colonial History of the State of New 

1 Moiurs des Sauvages Americains, Comparees avec Mceurs des Premiers 
Temps, vol. i. pp. 75, 76. 


Yorlc (Albany, 1853-58. Vol. iv. p. 758), where we find the 
Onondagas (Iroquois) solemnly offering to bind themselves to call 
the Mohawks (Iroquois) fathers if the latter joined them in a 
war against the Governor of Canada. It is perfectly clear that 
father was, in this case, to be used as a term of respect, and 
that the offer would have been meaningless had the term not 
had its recognised value simply as a term of respect. Mr. 
Morgan, curiously enough, has himself given excellent examples 
of this use of the classificatory terms between tribe and tribe. 
(See Ancient Society, p. 138, for the Iroquois; also p. 106.) 

If farther illustration of their uses be wanted, it can easily 
be found in the Relations des Jesuites — writings of high authority 
about the manners of the Indians (though not all of equal 
authority), and which, though more concerned with the Hurons 
than the Iroquois, contain accounts of both (and, besides, they 
were really the same people). In the Relations — to take a few 
examples — we find Father Le Jeune saying : " As soon as they 
could see me from the village [Huron] everybody ran out, each 
calling me by my name. 'What, Echom, my nephew, my 
brother, my cousin, art thou come back V" (Relations des 
Jemites. Quebec Eeprint. Vol. i. p. 29. Quebec, 1858.) They 
addressed him, that is, in the term of the classificatory system 
which was appropriate in each case. Again (the speaker 
this time is Simon le Moine, and the people were Iroquois) — 
" One regards me as his brother, another as his uncle, a third 
as his cousin — never had I so numerous a body of relatives." 
(Ibid. vol. ii. p. 13.) Once more, "The Huron chief," says 
Joseph Poncet, "addressing the Iroquois chief, his prisoner, 
says to him, 'My nephew,' for it is a term of compliment 
used among these peoples." The captive Iroquois replying, 
addressed the Huron as "my uncle." (Ibid. vol. ii. p. 21.) 
We find, too, an Iroquois, in trying to console Simon le Moine 
upon the death of two Frenchmen, speaking of them as Simon's 
nephews, and assuring him that when he wants nephews to 
build for him he will find that all his nephews are not dead — 
meaning that the Iroquois would help him. (Ibid. vol. iii. 
p. 37.) We find a great chief speaking of the French as his 
nephews (vol. i. p. 89) ; the chiefs of a village addressing Le 
Jeune as " my nephew," (vol. i. p. 84) ; a Huron chief 
addressing an Iroquois prisoner as "my nephew," and the 
Iroquois, when brought out for the torture, saying to the 
assembled Hurons, " My brothers, do your worst " (vol. i. pp. 
110-113); another prisoner addressed as "my uncle," and 

X 2 


answering " my nephew " (vol. i. p. 116) ; a Huron chief address- 
ing a stranger as " my brother," and speaking of " my cousins 
of the two other nations " (vol. iii. p. 21) ; Father Jogues 
addressed by an old woman with whom he stayed as " my 
nephew " (vol. ii. p. 75) ; a present offered in the name of the 
young men of the Iroquois to " their uncle," the great chief of 
the French ; Frenchmen also addressed by an Iroquois as " my 
brothers," and the governor spoken of as an eldest brother 
(vol. ii. pp. 22 and 28). These are instances enough to show 
that Mr. Morgan was wrong in supposing that the classificatory 
terms were only used between relations, and to denote blood- 
relationship ; and enough to show that they were regularly used 
without thought of relationship, and between people who were 
not relations, one or another being used — age and station being 
both considered — according to the degree of respect to be 

Lafitau tells us that, even in his time, the Indians were said 
to have departed greatly from their ancient customs. It is 
intelligible — indeed it is certain — that they have changed very 
much since then ; and this may explain the difference between 
Lafitau and Mr. Morgan. To study contemporary Indians 
towards the middle of the nineteenth century was not, by itself, 
the best way to learn the truth about Indian customs and in- 
stitutions, when there were accessible copious records of these 
dating from more than two hundred years earlier. 

It is not necessary, however, to go to early writers about the 
Red Men to find proof that Mr. Morgan entirely misconceived 
the classificatory system as used among them. In James's 
Rocky Mountains (1823) there occur (without any theorising) 
excellent casual illustrations of the way in which it was actually 
used. " The Big Elk," we find it said in one place (vol. 
i. p. 174), " made us a considerable harangue, with all the 
remarkable vivacity, fiuency, and nerve of Indian eloquence, in 
which he said that he would address me by the title of ' father.' 
' And you,' said he to Mr. Dougherty, ' whom I know so well, I 
will call brother.' " This is pretty well, but a few pages further 
on (vol. i. p. 185), we meet with something better. " They then 
serve out the food to the guests [this occurs in a description of 
a feast among Indians], placing the best portions of it before 
the chiefs. Each individual, on the reception of his portion, 
returns his thanks to the host in such respectful expressions as 
become his relative consequence, as "How-je-ne-ha, How-we- 
sun-guh, How-na-ga-ha, &c. (thank you, father, thank you, 


younger brother, thank you, uncle, &c.), after which they eat 
in silence." Here we find the classificatoiy terms used precisely 
as Lafitau said they were used, to express degrees of respect, 
and not degrees of relationship. After this, one finds, without 
sui-prise, that when the terms used between relations come to 
be expressly spoken of, the writer tells us of their use in ad- 
dresses, and has nothing else to say of them ; and shows, inci- 
dentally, that particular terms were used where there was a 
propriety in using them, whether there was blood-relationship or 
not. " The designations by which the Omawhaws distinguish their 
various degrees of consanguinity," he says (vol. i. p. 231), " are 
somewhat different in meaning from ours ; children universally 
address their father's brother by the title of father, and their 
mother's brother by that of uticU ; their mother's sister is called 
mother, and their father's sister aunt. The children of brothers 
and sisters address each other by the titles of brother and 

sister A man distinguishes his wife's brother by the title 

of ' Tahong,' or brother-in-law, aTid his son also hy the same 
designation. He calls the wife of his brother-in-law ' Cong-ha,' 
or mother-in-law. [These two must be mere terms of address.] 
A woman calls her husband's brother ' Wish-e-a,' or brother-in-law, 
and speaks of his children as her own. Her husband's sister she 
distinguishes by the title of relationship ' Wish-e-cong,' or sister-in- 
law. Men who marry sisters address each other by the title of 
brother. All women who marry the same individual, even though 
not previously related, apply to each other the title of sister."] , 

[In Ancient Society (published in 1877, after the appearance 
of the criticism here reprinted) Mr. Morgan seems to have 
allowed for the fact that the American Indians (and other peoples 
who have the classificatory system) use the classificatory terms 
freely in addresses ; he remodelled his theories, apparently, to 
account for the terms being employed between larger classes 
than he had originally contemplated. He still, however, held 
to the untenable position that they were never used except 
between people who knew they were each other's relations, and 
never used by such people except to denote the relationship 
known to them as subsisting between them. And " where no 
relationship subsists," he said again, " the form of salutation is 
simply ' my friend.' " (Ancient Society, pp. 436, 441, 328.) It 
is for the classificatory system as thus misconceived of, that Mr. 


Morgan tried to account in Ancient Society. If the misconcep- 
tion has to be admitted, his theories are worthless ; since, even 
if well devised, they have been devised to account for that 
which is not the fact. It is clear that this was Mr. Morgan's 
own view. 

If, moreover, the classificatory terms were freely used as terms 
of address, with nothing thought of but age and station, large 
suppositions about early marriage which transcend experience 
(and perhaps also probability) — even apart from the risk of 
their proving too much or something other than what is wanted 
— are not needed in accounting for those terms. If it be thought 
they must have originated in some form of the family, it is 
unnecessary to imagine a form of the family large and complex 
beyond anything which observation has informed us of. More 
modest suppositions will suffice ; for there need not be any 
proportion — there may be any degree of disparity — between the 
nucleus in which the terms originated and the circle throughout 
which they were commonly used.] 

[No Lafitau has written of the Blacks of Australia, and we 
have no casual records of their customs such as the Relations 
des Jesuites have given us for the Indians of the Canadas. 
There is evidence, however, that, among them also, the terms of 
relationship were commonly used as terms of address, and not 
to denote known relationships only. 

The explorer, Eyre, had excellent opportunities of being 
informed on such matters, and his evidence, while given quite 
casually, is very clear as to this. " In their intercourse with 
each other," he says, " natives of different tribes are exceedingly 
punctilious and polite, the most endearing epithets are passed 
between those who never met before ; almost everything that is 
said is prefaced by the appellation of father, son, brother, mother, 
sister, or some other similar term, corresponding to that degree 
of relationship which would have been most in accordance with 
their relative ages and circumstances." ^ 

This shows that the terms of relationship were used among 
the Australians precisely as Lafitau says they were used among 
the Iroquois. They were interchanged between persons who 
never met before — not between some strangers only, but be- 
tween all whom occasion brought together ; and that, as Mr. 

1 Eyre's Central Australia, vol. ii. p. 214. 1845. 


Eyre clearly conveys, not in recognition of relationship actual or 
probable, but for politeness' sake — the term used being that 
which " age and circumstances " showed to be proper. 

Some confirmatory statements may be found in a work 
deeply imbued with Mr. Morgan's theories — Mr. Brough Smith's 
work, The Aborigines of Victoria. The most distinct of these 
is that of Mr. Bridgman (vol. i. p. 92), and it is virtually iden- 
tical with Mr. Eyre's, though less detailed. " Blacks in their 
native state, before they pick up our manners and customs," 
Mr. Bridgman says, "never call each other by name. They 
always use a term of relationship"; which, unless no blacks 
ever spoke to each other except those who knew each other to 
be relations, is simply Eyre's statement over again. It appears, 
too, that Mr. Bridgman himself, in his intercourse with the 
natives, addressed them by the terms of relationship. To this 
may be added Mr. Wilhelmi's statement (vol. i. p. 87), that 
" forms and names strictly in use among relations only " are so 
used, through friendship, between persons who are not relations, 
that " it becomes totally impossible to make out who are really 
relations and who are not." 

The theories of Mr. Morgan's ingenious disciple, the Kev. 
Lorimer Fison {Kamilaroi and Kurnai, Melbourne, 1880) are 
all, more or less, founded upon the fact that terms of relation- 
ship are in use among the Australians as terms of address. A 
correspondent, whose means of getting knowledge are usually 
very imperfect, reports, in answer to a question, that certain rather 
large classes of people, or whole populations, as the case may 
be, call each other brothers and sisters (or whatever other term 
suits their relative ages), and Mr. Fison forthwith assumes that 
throughout those classes or populations there is full acknowledg- 
ment of blood-relationship. 

It may be added that the Australian terms of relationship, 
so far as they are known to us, are, even more clearly than the 
classificatory terms in general, framed for use in addresses ; while 
some of them are now in certain cases within the family, ob- 
viously terms of address only, and others can never have been 
descriptive of relationships actual or probable, as, according to 
Mr. Morgan, they all were originally. Not a few are reciprocal. 
Among the Kurnai (Gippsland), for example, wehntwin is the 
term applied to a paternal grandfather, his brother, and so on ; 
and it is also the term applied by such persons to their grand- 
sons and grandnephews. It cannot, therefore, have been framed 
to describe either the relationship of father's father or that of 


son's son. It must have originated as a term of address between 
men and their connections on the father's side of the generation 
above the father. There is a term, nakun, similarly used be- 
tween a mother's father and his brothers and sisters, on the one 
hand, and her children on the other ; and there are also terms 
which are similarly interchanged between people and their 
paternal and maternal grandmothers and their respective 
brothers and sisters. Among the Kumai also, the wives of 
two brothers call each other sister, which so used can only be 
a term of address ; and, similarly, the husbands of two sisters 
call each other brother ; while, to confirm the indications thus 
Teceived, in the Bra-brolung section of the Kurnai, bra meaning 
husband and wrukut wife, a man and his sister's husband call 
each other bra, and a woman and her brother's wife call each 
other wrukut. {The Aborigines of Victoria, vol. ii. p. 328). 
The terms used between grandparents, &c., and grandchildren, 
given above, do not carry the suggestion of communal marriage 
with them ; and this is even less the case with the terms used 
in the Port Fairy district. These, according to Mr. Dawson, are 
in a great many cases varied, according as the person addressed 
is married or single.^] 


[me. morgan's latest work. 

[In a work published after the appearance of this criticism 
{Ancient Society, London, 1877) Mr. Morgan made some changes 
in, and additions to, his reasonings, enlarged his family systems, 
and remodelled his nomenclature. His first form of the family 
was now founded upon the " marriage in a group" of men and 
women of the same blood calling themselves brothers and sisters 
— of " brothers and sisters own and collateral " — of all brothers 
and sisters and cousins of the same grade or generation. This he 
named the consanguine family. And he made use of this alone 
(omitting at this stage the " Hawaiian custom ") in trying to 
account for the Malayan nomenclature. The Hawaiian custom 

' Australian Aborigines. By James Dawson. Melbourne. 1881. 


was, in this work, re-named punaluan marriage (see page 256) ; 
the definition of the new term was expanded (as in the previous 
case) so as to admit collateral brothers and collateral sisters (that 
is, male and female cousins) into the punaluan married groups ; 
and Mr. Morgan declared punaluan marriage good for explaining, 
not the Malayan terms, but the Turanian. Their sufficiency to 
account for the former of these consistently with the nature of 
descents, " as near as the parentage of children could be known," 
was now to form the reason for believing in the consanguine 
family and the group marriage of " brothers " and " sisters " out 
of which it was said to spring. Its sufficiency in accounting in 
like manner for the Turanian terms was to prove the prevalence 
at one time of punaluan marriage — the proof of which had, 
with the former name, been rested upon the help it gave in 
accounting for the Malayan terms. 

And his view still being that the terms he was dealing with 
denoted actual relationships "as near as the parentage of 
children could be known," Mr. Morgan now perceived the diffi- 
culty it made for his view that there should be in the Malayan 
system no distinctive term for mother. He suggested that the 
affiliation of children to the group to which they belonged 
would be so strong " that the distinction between relationships 
by blood and by affinity would not be recognized in every 
case " (but he should rather have said in any case) — and that 
thus the distinction between a real mother and the many other 
women known by the same name escaped observationj or, at 
any rate, left no impression. This, however, is equivalent to 
saying that, from the nature of the case, note could not be taken 
in the consanguine family of the parentage of children in the cases 
in which it could be known. And it is an abandonment of the 

As to punaluan marriage, the Hawaiian custom of the text 
expanded as above-mentioned, and the family springing from it, 
though there was nothing to show that they ever were prevalent 
among men unless their fitness to account for the Turanian 
nomenclature, it will be found that, in Ancient Society, Mr. 
Morgan did not use them in accounting for any one of the 
Turanian terms. Those Turanian terms which coincide, or 
partly coincide, with Malayan terms he had already tried to 
account for by the hypothesis of the consanguine family, and he 
did this over again ; the others he tried to account for (Ancient 
Society, pp. 442 — 445) by means of exogamy alone. His reason- 
ing was exactly what it would have been had punaluan marriage 


never occurred to him — so that this was, on his own showing, a 
purely gratuitous assumption. Not only that, it was an em- 
barrassing assumption. Instead of finding it indispensable for 
his explanations — and so being enabled to justify it, more or 
less, as a hypothesis — he had carefully to keep it out of his 
reasonings. An obvious difficulty with it was that, on the 
assumption, there were two forms of the punaluan family (see 
page 255), and that neither could " as near as the parentage 
of children could be known," yield him, even with his own 
reasoning, both the Turanian sense of father and the Turanian 
sense of mother. In the case in which the husbands were not 
brothers, Mr. Morgan's reasoning would not account for a father's 
brothers being called fathers; in the case in which the wives 
were not sisters, it would not account for a mother's sisters being 
mothers. The punaluan hypothesis at this critical point was, 
even in Mr. Morgan's hands, worse than useless for explanation ; 
and, accordingly, he could not use it for any purpose of explana- 
tion. He attempted, however, to make it consistent with his 
system, or not adverse to it, by giving it a farther expansion. 
He supposed that the punaluan marriage group included, as a 
sort of honorary members, all the brothers "own and collateral" 
of each of the husbands where they were not each other's 
brothers, and all the sisters "own and collateral" of each of 
the wives where they were not each other's sisters. That 
would make it, for the explanation of the terms for father 
and mother, equivalent to the consanguine family. More than 
this is needed, motherhood being admittedly recognized when 
punaluan groups first began to be formed — so fully recog- 
nized that children of the same mother could no longer many 
one another. But, at any rate, this involved, and Mr. Morgan 
saw this clearly, that neither the Turanian nomenclature nor 
the Malayan had received the impression of the punaluan family, 
as described by him, or of the Hawaiian custom as he had 
originally conceived of it. 

Mr. Miorgan's consanguine family is, in fact, a tribe or body of 
kinsfolk, the members of which never made outside marriages, 
while within there was promiscuity oi; communal marriage, not 
between all marriageable men and women, but between aU men 
and women of the same grade or generation. It is indispensable 
to the hypothesis (as Mr. Morgan points out) that people of 
different grades should have been kept apart from one another ; 
so that the hypothesis supposes that, with an extreme of licence 
up to a certain point, there was combined an unprecedented 


severity of restriction. The men and women who cohabited so 
freely were those of about the same age only — the older people, 
the middle-aged, and perhaps ■ even the youngish people, being 
strictly cut off from the young. With punaluan marriage, ac- 
cording to the hypothesis, cohabitation was similarly restricted 
to men and women of the same grade or age. This, in either 
case, because (a thing not surprising in itself, nor needing any 
wonderful explanation) the people who use the classificatory 
system consider age among other things in addressing one 

Punaluan marriage, like consanguine marriage, was on the 
hypothesis, confined to the tribe, as well as to people of about 
the same age within the tribe. How it could grow up within 
a consanguine tribe, in which those who were free to marry 
were all, to begin, " brothers " and " sisters," is a matter left 
obscure by Mr. Morgan ; nor could he have worked this out 
without coming upon fatal difficulties. It is needless to remark 
upon the discrepancy between punaluan customs as described in 
Ancient Society, and the laxities hinted at (p. 256) by Mr. 
Morgan's correspondent, Mr. Andrews. 

Mr. Lorimer Fison (Kamilaroi and Kurnai, Melbourne, 
1880), whUe not accepting the consanguine family, on which 
Mr. Morgan's whole system rests, professes himself a believer in 
punaluan marriage and the punaluan family. But Mr. Fison's 
hypothesis (as stated in the work above mentioned) is not quite 
the same as Mr. Morgan's. Mr. Fison's " intermarrying classes," 
by the way, have sometimes been taken for matter of fact ; but 
they are a hypothesis only.] 



Das Mutterrecht — an inquiry into the gynaikocracy 
of the ancient world in its connection with religion 
and law — the work of a Swiss jurist, published in 1861, 
announced to the world, for the first time, the discovery 
that a system of kinship through females only had 
everywhere preceded the rise of kinship through males. ^ 
The general exposition prefixed to this great work makes 
it possible to form a view of the scope of the evidence 
adduced of this as the true history of kinships, as well as 
a view of the causes of that history as they appeared to 
Bachofen. From the work itself, owing to peculiarities 
in its composition, one might well despair of being able 

^ It was in the spring of 1866 that I first heard of Das Mutter- 
recht, and then I found that I had been anticipated by Herr 
Bachofen in this discovery. No two routes, however, could be 
more widely apart than those by which Bachofen and I had arrived 
at this conclusion. I was led to it by reasoning on the exigencies 
of my explanation of the origin of the form of capture. To 
Bachofen the fact seems to have revealed itself as everywhere 
underlying the traditions, and especially the mythologies, of anti- 
quity which his prodigious learning comprehended in all their vast 


to form any such views ; ^ and, indeed, even the general 
exposition referred to is of so mystic a nature that it is 
difficult to obtain from it distinct propositions. The 
account of Bachofen's scheme of human progress which 
foUows is wholly founded on that general exposition : — 

At first there were no laws regulating the intercourse 
of the sexes, and human beings lived in a state of 
hetairism. The women, by nature nobler and more 
sensitive than the men, were at last disgusted with this 
life, and under the impulse of a strong religious aspira- 
tion combined to put an end to hetairism and introduce 
marriage. They succeeded, and established monogamy,^ 
but not without an appeal to force. Bachofen compares 
the Amazonian movements of later days with those by 
which marriage was first introduced. After referring to 
the myth of Bellerophon as suggesting an armed rebel- 
lion of the women of Lycia for the assertion of their 
rights, he adds : " The importance of Amazonianism, as 

^ Since this paper was printed I have obtained, and read with 
pleasure, Profesor Giraud-Tenlon's La Mire, chez certains Peuples de 
VAntiquiti, which is founded on Das Mutterrecht itself, of the evi- 
dence contained in which it bears to be a brief and orderly exposi- 
tion. The reader who might despair of mastering Bachofen's 
ponderous German quarto, will find the gist of it in La Mire, in 
some sixty pages of pleasant reading. 

2 The form of marriage which they introduced is not expressly 
mentioned by Bachofen, but the whole scope of his exposition shows 
that he believed it to be monogamy. This is, indeed, what he 
always means by marriage, a gradual evolution of modes of marriage 
not being within his contemplation. 


opposed to Hetairism, for the elevation of the feminine 
sex, and through them of mankind, cannot be doubted." 

It resulted, at once from the spiritual superiority of 
the women, which gave origin to the progress from 
hetairism, and the superiority in arms by which they 
conquered for themselves the benefits of a marriage-law, 
that in the families founded upon marriage, which grew 
up after the change, the women and not the men held 
the first place. They assigned this place to themselves, 
or had it conceded to them. They were the heads of 
families ; the children were named after their mothers 
and not after their fathers ; and all the relationships 
to which rights of succession attached were traced 
through women only. Farther, they assigned to them- 
selves, or had conceded to them, the political as well as 
the domestic supremacy. 

Even in the stage of hetairism, religion — albeit of a 
low " telluric, chthonic " type — exercised a beneficent 
influence, and was a cause, if not the prime one, of the 
state of hetairism being departed from. Thereafter, an 
improving religious faith was everywhere the accompani- 
ment and, in a sense, the cause of the triumph of the 
women and of the improving social condition. On the 
rise and consolidation of the gynaikocratical power in 
the Greek area. Aphrodite made way for Demeter and 
Hera — divinities in some sense, still, " chthonic, telluric,',' 
but which, in another sense, were lunar divinities, and 
in every way superior to their predecessor. " Wherever 
gjTiaikocracy meets us," says Bachofen,^ " the mystery 

1 P. XV. 


of the ' chthonic ' religion is bound up with it, whether 
this connects itself with Demeter's name or lends to 
motherdom an incorporation in some divinity of a 
similar character." Lastly, religion is represented as 
fostering the cause of women, chiefly through its mys- 
teries assigning a divine character, as it were, to 
motherdom as compared with fatherdom. 

What was gained through religion was destined to 
be lost through it. The loss came in the Greek area 
through Dionysos promulgating that fatherdom alone 
was divine — the father the only true parent, the mother 
a nurse merely. The women at first opposed this new 
gosf el, and fresh Amazonian risings were the common 
feature of their opposition. But the resistance was 
ineffectual, and the women, presently becoming converts 
to the new idea, were, after that, its warmest supporters. 
Their support cost them less in position than might have 
been expected, for Bacchanalian excesses, restoring in a 
measure the ancient hetairism, laid afresh the basis of 
gynaikocracy. It was before a very different and more 
modern religious thought that gynaikocracy was destined 
to disappear. This thought was "the immaterial, 
spiritual, AppoUonic" — "solar" — conception of father- 
dom. It secured what remained of the advantages of 
Dionysos' previous triumph, and combined it with the 
fruits of fresh victories never again to be lost. For it 
was a pure celestial thought that promoted pure prac- 
tices only, and so was destructive of hetairism, and aU 
that was founded thereon. Fathers now took the first 
places in the family and the state ; children were named 


after them; and all relationships to which rights of 
succession attached were traced through fathers only : 
the "motherless" Athene became the symbol of the 
overthrow of motherdom and of gynaikocracy. Not 
that the cause of mothers ceased to be the subject of 
farther conflicts. There was, indeed, a succession of 
these, between the principles of various creeds, before 
the fruits of the victory of fatherdom were securely 
garnered. "When the final triumph came, it was de- 
termined by an influence outside the domain of religion 
^—namely, the all-powerful authority of the Roman 

Such, in outline, are Bachofen's views, as explained 
in the introduction to Das Mutterrecht. He often states 
that he regards religion as a mere expression of the 
circumstances of a people, but then he always refers to 
religion as a cause,^ without telling us what were the 
circurtistances it represented, and so has failed to put 
the stages of progress before us in the light of the 
causes determining them, except in so far as we may 
take some religion for such a cause. In other respects 
his methods and results are equally unscientific. 

He saw the fact that kinship was anciently traced 
through women only, but not why it was the fact. 
Admitting him to be correct in thinking that women, 
revolting from hetairism, introduced monogamous 
marriage, surely it is a pure dream of the imagination 

^ At p. xiii. Bachofen calls religion " the only powerful lever of 
all civilization." His various views on this subject are, in fact, 
in no small degree inconsistent with one another. 

Y 2 


that they eflfected this by force of arms. Were it 
true that marriage was, from its beginning, monoga- 
mous, kinship would certainly (human nature being 
as it now is) have been traced through fathers, if not 
indeed through fathers only, from the first. Will any 
one accept it as genuine history that this consequence 
of monogamy did not follow at first because the women 
willed it otherwise ? That, apart from the force of 
some custom established by a more primitive and earlier 
marriage system, the children of a man and woman 
living together as husband and wife should be subject 
to the mother's authority and not the father's, be named 
after her and not after the father, be her heirs and not 
the father's, is simply incredible ; and is surely not 
rendered credible by the statement that these singulari- 
ties were the direct consequences of women having been 
victorious in a war with men. But this is Bachofen's 
view of the facts. He wholly failed to see that all 
those signs of superiority on the woman's part were 
the direct consequences (1) of marriage not being 
monogamous or such as to permit of certainty of 
fatherhood ; and (2) of wives not as yet living in 
their husband's houses, but apart from them, in the 
houses of their own mothers. It can scarcely be 
doubted, moreover, that Bachofen has misinterpreted 
many of the facts bearing on ancient gynaikocracy.^ 

' Partly it is misinterpretation, partly exaggeration merely, of 
these facts, whioh may be charged against Bachofen. Sir John 
Lubbock appears {Origin of Civilization, p. 92) to dispute the facts 
altogether, asserting that, " among the lowest races of men," 


It remains, however, after all qualifications and de- 
ductions, that he, before any one else, discovered the 
fact that a system of kinship through mothers only 
had anciently everywhere prevailed before the tie of 
blood between father and child had found a place in 
systems of relationships. And the honour of that 
discovery, the importance of which, as affording a new 
starting-point for all history, cannot be over-estimated, 
must, without stint or qualification, be assigned to 

woman's place is one of abject subjection, and he instances the 
case of the Australians. But obviously, such an instance tells in 
no degree against Bachofen, and indeed it shows a misconception of 
the evidence adduced by him. At present, it is not easy to say 
what the exact condition of the Australians is ; but it is clear 
that they have monogamy and polygamy as their forms of marriage, 
and so that, with them, husbands are the heads of families. No 
case is producible of woman being ill-treated under a form of 
marriage which assigns to her the headship of the family. The 
reader will find an admirable review of the facts in connection with 
this matter, and with ancient gynaikocracy, in Professor Millar's 
Origin of Ranks, a work in which Bachofen has almost been antici- 
pated, and that by a treatment of the facts in every sense strictly 
scientific. I became acquainted with this work, which has gone 
out of sight, in 1871, exactly a century after it was published. 
Mr. Millar was professor of law in Glasgow, a coadjutor of Adam 
Smith, and friend of David Hume. Adam Smith is said to have 
suggested to him to write the work I refer to, which every student 
of history should be acquainted with — Tlis Origin of the Distinction 
of Ranks. Fourth Edition, Edinburgh, 1806 ; First Edition, 1771. 




The scheme of social progress propounded by Sir 
John Lubbock in his Origin of Civilization has, for its 
starting-point, a system of " communal marriage," which, 
though different from, reminds us of, Mr. Morgan's 
" Communal " family. 

Sir John Lubbock (p. 91) uses for convenience, as 
he says, the term " communal marriage " to mean at 
least two distinct things, viz., the condition of man 
socially, (1) When " marriage did not exist " ; and 
(2) When " all the men and women in a small com- 
munity were regarded as equally married to one 
another." "Communal marriage" is thus, in one 
sense, an equivalent for promiscuity ; while, in another, 
it denotes the initial stage of a progress which Sir John 
sketches, and means something very different from pro- 
miscuity. In the latter sense, it confers " communal 
rights" (see p. 97) on all the men of a community, and 
is thus — as a species of marriage conferring m.arital 
rights on many — contrasted with " individual marriage,'' 
which confers such rights on one person only. The two 


significations of the phrase are obviously inconsistent 
with one another, for the state of hetairism knows no 
" rights " in matters of sex.^ 

The speculation as to the size of the primitive 
groups, to which the second meaning of communal 
marriage points, is not developed by Sir John Lubbock. 
Once he enters on the exposition of his scheme of pro- 
gress, he neglects the size of the communities and speaks 
of them as "tribes," which may mean groups of any 
magnitude. The other qualifying terms in the definition 
of communal marriage are similarly neglected. The 
phrase is used to denote " the primitive social condition 
of man," — a condition under which, while it lasted, aU 
the men of a group were " equally " the husbands of 
every woman in the group, and had, over her, communal 

The history which Sir John Lubbock has to give of 
marriage is that the communal marriage system at first 
prevailed universally; and that the communism was 
everywhere gradually abridged, and finally, in most 
quarters, destroyed, by individual marriages between 
men and their war-captives. " Even under communal 
marriage," he says, " a warrior who had captured a 
beautiful girl would claim a peculiar right to her, and, 
when possible, would set custom at defiance," i.e. appro- 
priate her to himself as a wife. Were he to appropriate 
a girl of the group, " he would infringe the rights of 

See p. 91, Origin of Civilization. The references are all to this 
book, and to the third edition. 


the whole tribe"; but he might appropriate a war- 
captive without infringing those rights, because — " the 
tribe had no right to her." The appropriation of war- 
captives as wives by individuals, accordingly, in Sir 
John Lubbock's opinion, instituted (l) monandry, i.e. 
the marriage of one man to one woman or to several 
women ; (2) exogamy, since a man could only get 
a wife to himself from another group ; and (3) the 
practice of capturing women for wives, since, the state 
of hostility prevailing, wives could only be obtained 
from other tribes by capture. 

The evidence offered of the initial stage of this pro- 
gress is in two branches : (1) what purports to be evidence 
of the communal marriage system deduced from recorded 
instances of communism in women ; and (2) what pur- 
ports to be evidence oi this system deduced from facts 
brought forward to show that, on a marriage, compen- 
sation was given to the men of the husband's group as 
for an infringement of their rights over the woman. 
The initial stage being assumed as proved by this 
evidence, the progress therefrom, through individual 
marriage founded on capture, bears to be demonstrated 
by general reasoning. 

But the general reasoning turns on one principle, 
and the evidence, in its second branch, on another 
principle. The first principle is that a man might 
appropriate a war-captive to himself, because over her 
the tribe had no right ; the other principle is, that the 
appropriation must be expiated, because it infringed 
the right of the tribe to the woman. The contradiction 


between these principles is obviously absolute, and that 
it exists is beyond dispute.* 

The evidence adduced of ancient communism in 
women involves facts so few that we may recite them, 
noting their value as we go on. 

I. First branch of the evidence of communism in 

1. Of the population of the Andaman Islands, 
Belcher states that it is the custom "for the man 
and woman to remain together tiU the child is 
weaned." But this (see Lubbock, I. c. pp. 74 and 
133) means "pairing," i.e. monogamous marriage, for 

1 With Sir J. Lubbock, marriage means only monandry, be- 
ginning with and developed through marriages by capture. If 
monandrous marriages between persons of the same group have 
a history apart from such marriages between persons of different 
groups, Sir John has not written — ^he has not even made aUusion 
to — that history. Had he done so, it might be believed that the 
cases in which expiation for marriage was required were considered 
by him, although he did not say so, as cases in which the man and 
woman were of the same group ; and it is clear that the proof of 
the expiation and its purpose being forthcoming, the ancient com- 
munal right might be legitimately inferred from such cases. The 
marriage, in such a case, would infringe the communal right, while 
a marriage with a war-captive might not. But these are considera- 
tions which seem not to have in any degree occupied Sir John's 
attention. At p. 98 he says, " Mr. McLennan's view [of the origin 
of marriage by capture] throws no light on the remarkable cere- 
monies of expiation for marriage"; and again (at p. 116), "the 
explanation I have suggested [of the origin of marriage by capture] 
derives additional probability from the evidence of a general feeling 
that marriage was an act for which some compensation was due to 
those whose rights were invaded." 

2 See Origin of Civilization, pp. 82 — fO. 


a term which may extend even to four years. It 
would permit of kinship through fathers. 

2. The Bushmen are stated to be without inarriage. 
Here is evidence of communal marriage in the first sense 
of the term. 

3. The Nairs. — The facts are well known. They 
present one of the best known cases of undoubted 

4. The Teehurs. — They " live almost indiscrimin- 
ately, and even when two people are regarded as 
married, the tie is but nominal." Here marriage of 
pairs is known ; conjugal fidelity slight. 

5. "China before Fouhi : Greece before Cecrops." — The 
trite tradition that in these countries marriage was un- 
known till the reigns of Fouhi and Cecrops respectively 
is thus paraphrased : " In China, communal marriage is 
stated to have prevailed down to the time of Fouhi, &c." 

6. Marriage did not exist among the Messagetse, 
the Auses, or the Garamantes, or, at one time, in 
California or Peru. 

7. Queen Charlotte's Island. — Mr. Poole says that 
" marriage is altogether unknown." 

8. The Sandwich Islanders. — Inference made from 
the Hawaiian system of relationships that children " be- 
longed to the group rather than to their parents." I do 
not clearly understand what this means in its bearing 
on communism. But my views of the Hawaiian system 
are before the reader. 

9. The Todas. — Off"ered as evidence of communal 
marriage. But the Todas give us one of the best 


vouclied cases of polyandry, presenting both the Nair 
and the Tibetan types of polyandry. 

10. The Tottiyars of India. — A case of " brothers, 
uncles and nephews, holding their wives in common." 

11. The GalactO'phagi. — Nicolaus (cited from Bach- 
ofen) says, "They called all old men fathers, young 
men sons, and those of equal age brothers." But what 
does this do to prove communal marriage ? And see 
my examination of Morgan's "conjectural solution." 

12. The Sioux, &g. — Here we have a case of poly- 
gamy — the wives being sisters. The case of Jacob 
might as well have been cited. 

13. (pp. 88 — 90). — Cases of adoption, supposed to 
have to do with the subject, but, so far as I can see, 
absolutely unrelated to it. The practice of adoption, 
indeed, is a proof of the existence of some settled form, 
not very primitive, of the family. 

Looking back, we see that the cases referred to under 
Nos. 2, 5, 6 and 7, are cases in which the fact adduced 
is that marriage was altogether unknown ; under Nos. 
3 and 9 are cases of unquestionable polyandry ; under 
Nos. 1, 4, and 12 are cases of the marriage of pairs, or of 
polygamy, where the consortship is, in No. 1, not for life, 
and in No. 4 unaccompanied by strict conjugal fidelity. 
There remain only Nos. 8 and ] 1, both of them con- 
nected with the Malayan form of the classificatory 
system — which, if I am right, implies Nair polyandry, 
followed by Tibetan, or by monandry ; No. 10, which 
goes for little; and No. 13, the cases comprised 
in which seem to have no bearing on the matter 


in hand, and which, indeed, illustrate a settled 
family system — the family presided over by parents 
united in monogamous marriage. It is surprising to 
find adoption as practised in Rome cited as part of this 

II. Second Branch of the Evidence of Communism 
in Women. — It is Bachofen who is really responsible 
for the proof here tendered. His idea is that evidence 
of the primitive hetairism is afforded by the acts of 
expiation for marriage (individual marriage, that is), 
that continued to be performed, on marriage being in- 
stituted, for the appeasement of the outraged divinity 
who presided over and cherished hetairism. A marriage 
was, as it were, a violation of a religious command; 
and its exclusiveness could only be atoned for by a 
period of " choiceless abandonment of herself to all " 
on the part of the woman. ^ The notion in this form 
is purely fanciful. The facts connected with the history 
of religion give no countenance to the supposition that 
men in the stage of savagery had thought out for them- 

^ That this evidence was adduced if not as proof, at least as 
justifying the assumption of " communal marriage " in the sense 
in which it conferred " communal rightSj" the reader may see, 
on referring to the summing-up of evidence on p. 90. "Assum- 
ing, then, that the communal marriage system shown in the pre- 
ceding pages to prevail, or have prevailed so widely among races in 
a low stage of civilization, represents the primitive and earliest 
social condition of man, we come now to consider the various ways in 
which it may have been broken up, and replaced by individual 

^ See Bachofen's Das Mutterrecht," p. xix. 


selves any divinity of the type of Aphrodite, whom 
Bachofen chiefly contemplates in connection with 
hetairism. To this fancy of Bachofen, however, Sir 
John Lubbock has given a scientific turn by represent- 
ing the expiation, compensation, or whatever it may be 
called, as being offered, not to the goddess, but to the 
tribesmen of the bridegroom. It is they, and they alone, 
whose rights he supposes the marriage to infringe, and 
to whom accordingly compensation should be given. 

Now, if we were to find a large number of well- 
vouched cases in which, on a marriage, extraordinary 
freedoms with the bride were permitted to the men of 
the bridegroom's kindred, it might be plausibly main- 
tained, in the absence of any more satisfactory explan- 
ation, that such cases furnished a proof of the sort that 
Sir John was in search of — that there was an assertion 
on the one side and a recognition on the other of an 
ancient right. But the cases ought to point clearly 
to this. The privileged persons should be men of the 
bridegroom's group only ; and the cases should be 
capable of no simpler explanation than that which refers 
them to an ancient communal right. ^ Let us see, then, 

1 [There are cases which, in some measure, fulfil the other 
conditions here spoken of ; but there is in every one of them a 
simpler explanation. "With a single exception, they are cases in 
which the form of capture occurs ; and there are none which 
show more clearly the origin of that marriage custom. In actual 
capture, among the Australians (to take a convenient example), 
" in any case where the abduction has taken place for the benefit 
of some one individual, each of the members of the party claims 
as a right a privilege which the intended husband has no power to 


what are the facts adduced. The evidence is comprised 
in pp. 116—122 and pp. 510-11 of The Origin of 
Civilization, and is introduced by a general allusion to 

refuse " {The Aborigines of Victoria. By R. Brougli-Smith, vol. ii 
p. 316. Melbourne, 1878). And this is claimed by those persons 
only who have taken part in the capture ; it is, indeed, a common 
war-right, exercised whenever, under any circumstances, capture of 
a woman is made by a war-party ; so that it belongs to those who 
exercise it in the. case mentioned as captors of the woman — and, 
accordingly, is not claimed by, nor allowed to, any others of the 
husband's friends or kinsfolk. In the cases referred to, after the 
bridegroom's party have been allowed to carry off the bride, there 
is precisely the same custom. Though the carrying ofi is but a 
form, they treat her as an Australian party treats a woman when 
they have carried her ofE by force for one of their number — or, as 
an Australian party would treat any woman who had fallen into 
their hands in warfare. With the form of capture occurring in 
these cases, it seems to be beyond question that this is a tradition 
from actual capture, that the members of the bridegroom'.s party 
(it may be, without any theory about it), have continued to them the 
right of captors. As in actual capture among the Australians, 
this is granted only to those who have been brought to carry off 
the bride ; it is neither granted to, nor claimed by, any others of the 
bridegroom's kinsfolk or friends. 

The case above alluded to in which the form of capture did not 
occur is a case in which it could not occur in any of the usual forms. 
It is that of an Australian people, the Kurnai. The Kurnai (who 
were exogamous) practised capture ; they had marriage by exchange, 
with something very like a form of capture {The Aborigines of 
Victoria, vol. i., p. 84) ; but elopements were also common among 
them. And in their elopements, when a man and woman had 
arranged to run away together, the man summoned a party of his 
friends, as he might have done for a capture, and thereupon the 
woman was treated as she would have been if the party had helped 
him in carrying her off. There was no form of carrying her off- — 
the circumstances did not admit of it ; there is that difference 



the facts given by Dulaure, in his chapter on the Wor- 
,ship of Venus, to which Dulaure correctly thinks that 
these facts belong. Sir John Lubbock says he cannot 
but think that they " have a diflferent and a deeper 

1. Babylonian and Cyprian Custom, reported by 
Herodotus (Clio, 199). — This custom was in Babylonia 
a feature and outcome of the worship of Mylitta. The 
freedoms allowed are not said to have been accorded to 
men of the bridegroom's group, or of the bride's group, 
but to " strangers." They, moreover, were not accorded 
on the eve of, or in contemplation of, marriage, or 
necessarily before marriage rather than after it, but by 
each woman " once in her life " ; and it is expressly 
stated that they were accorded " for the satisfaction of 
the goddess." Herodotus says that a similar custom 
prevailed in parts of Cyprus. 

between this case and the cases already noticed. But against this 
must be set the fact that the Kurnai actually practised capture. 
That considered, the connection of what happened with capture 
appears to be as unmistakable at least as it is in the other cases. 
It is, indeed, a form of capture in itself. And there could scarcely 
be better proof than it afEords that a long and systematic practice 
of abduction preceded the practice of elopement among the Kurnai 
— influencing their wedding customs so deeply that even a willing 
bride was treated like a captive woman. Here again nothing was 
allowed to any persons except those whom the men brought to play 
the part of captors. 

It is scarcely necessary to say that no custom of exogamous 
peoples, no custom, at any rate, which had its origin in war- 
capture, can help to sustain Sir J. Lubbock's theory of expiation 
for marriage, as he has himself stated it.] 


2. Armenian Custom, reported by Strabo. — This 
custom was a feature of the worship of Anaitis — a 
phallic divinity like Mylitta — to whom males as well as 
females were dedicated. The daughters of good families 
were " consecrated " to this goddess, and often married 
well after a long period of service in her temple. In 
this case the women appear to have given themselves to 
the worshippers of the goddess indiscriminately. 

3. Nasamones, "and other j^Ethiopians." — The jus 
primcB noctis accorded among the Nasamones and 
Auziles to all the guests at a marriage indiscriminately. 
There is no indication that the guests were of the 
kinship of the bridegroom only, and it is not likely 
that they were. 

4. Carthage ; parts of Greece ; Hindustan. — " Du- 
laure asserts it occurred " in these places-^ii meaning 
the custom which prevailed at Babylon. 

5. The Lydians. — Sir John says : " The account 
which Herodotus gives of the Lydians, though not so 
clear, seems to indicate a similar law." 

What Herodotus says is that the daughters of the 
common people in Lydia were prostitutes before 

6. The Thracians. — Sir John says that their cus- 
toms, "as described by Herodotus, point to a similar 
feeling," the feeling, I presume, that compensation was 
due for marriage. 

Here are then: customs (Herod., b.v. 5 and 6). — They 
are polygamous and have suttee ; buy their wives and 
sell their children (male and female). " On their maidens 

z 2 


they keep no watcli . . . while on their wives they 
keep a most strict watch." 

7. Italy. — Allusion by St. Augustine to the newly- 
married performing (harmless) acts recognizing the 
divinity of Priapus. 

8. Balearic Islands ; the Manias ; Nuhahiva.-^K 
custom said to prevail similar to that of the Nasamones. 

9. India, in various quarters. — Virgins required to 
permit liberties in the temples. 

10. The Sonthals. — Marriages take place once a year. 
A period of license for six days before among the 
candidates for matrimony. 

11. Case of profligacy on the part of a woman of 
the Nando wessies, such as not " once in an age " any of 
their women was guilty of, though it was in accordance 
with an old custom. She entertained 40 warriors. It 
is not said that they belonged to any one tribe, or that 
the act had relation to her marriage. 

12. A series of instances of lending wives (pp. 118- 
120). — The case of the Tapyrians, referred to by Sir 
John Lubbock, is not exactly stated. It is not said by 
Strabo that they were obliged to leave their wives, but 
that it was their custom "to surrender them, even when 
they had had two or three children by them, to other 
men, as Cato surrendered Marcia in our own times, &c." 
This may mean no more than that it was sometimes 
done. At any rate, there is no hint that the wives were 
surrendered only to men of the same tribe as the 

13. A series of instances of courtesans being either 


highly respected or "by no means despised." Sir John 
regards the class of courtesans as representatives of the 
" communal wives " of primitive times. The existence 
of this class admits of a simpler explanation (pp. 

Such is the evidence. Nos. 1, 2, 4, 7, and 9 include 
cases which specifically relate themselves to phallic- 
worship; Nos. 3, 8, and 10, cases referring to the "first 
night," or the days preceding marriage ; Nos. 5 and 6, 
cases in regard to which the statements made seem not 
to be supported by the authorities; and Nos. 11, 12, 
and 13, cases which appear to be without bearing on the 
matter at issue. Not one case satisfies the indispensable 
conditions specified ; not one is a case of privileges 
accorded to the men of the bridegroom's group only, 
in clear connection with marriage, and incapable of a 
simpler explanation than that which refers them to an 
ancient communal right. With reference to the cases of 
phaUic origin — more particularly the Indian cases — I 
cannot help observing that they occur among peoples 
who had advanced far from the primitive state. Indian 
history carries us thousands of years closer to the com- 
munal stage, if it ever existed, than we now are ; and, 
in India, the farther back we go, the less we find of this 
sort of thing. The germ only of phallic-worship shows 
itself in the Vedas, and the gross luxuriance of licen- 
tiousness, of which the cases referred to are examples, is 
of later growth. The lending of wives, again, is a mere 
proof that conjugal attachment depends on sentiments 
which develop but slowly, and which, as the case of 


Cato proves, prevail only after monogamy has had. a 
long and uninterrupted history. Of the cases comprised 
under Nos. 3, 8, and 10, which will make the strongest 
impression on the reader — though they prove nothing, 
in my opinion, for Bachofen or for Lubbock — this is 
not the place to attempt to oflfer an explanation. For 
the present purpose, it is enough to point out that they 
are not cases of privilege granted to the men of the 
husband's tribe. In the case of the Nasamones the 
freedoms allowed were granted to " the guests " present 
at the nuptial feast ; in the case of the Balearic Islanders, 
to the " intimates and friends " — it is not said whether 
of the bridegroom, or of the bride, or of both ; and ia 
neither case is it stated whether the nuptial feast was 
given at the home of the bridegroom or of the bride. 
In neither case is a reference made to relatives or tribes- 
men. How entirely unconnected these cases may be, 
with either the propitiation of a divinity or compensa- 
tion to the men of a tribe, the reader may see on 
reference to what Gubernatis has written on similar 
customs.^ " ^ da notarsi," says Gubernatis, " come 
neU' antica credenza vedica si supponeva che un demonio 
nascondesse nella vergine, il quale ne venisse via col 
sangue"; in support of which he refers to Hymn 85, 
Book X. of the Big- Veda. Where such a view prevailed, 
it is easily conceivable how for a time the post of 
husband should be ceded, and how the exercise of the 
jus primes noctis should really be of the nature of a 

^ See Storia comparata degli Usi Nuziali in Italia e presso gli 
altri popoli Indo-Europei, pp. 197-8. Milan, 1869. 


friendly or neighbourly act. Lastly, I have only to 
remark of the " communal wives," as Sir John courteously 
calls them, that, if any inference is to be made from 
their standing in Athens, in the brilliant age of Pericles, 
as to the state of matters in the primitive groups, proof 
of primitive communism in women might as well be 
sought in London or Paris in our own day. Far back 
in the interval between savagery and the age of Pericles 
are the heroes of Homer, with their noble wedded 

I have now examined, in both of its branches, the 
evidence of ancient communism (" communal rights ") 
over women on which Sir John Lubbock founds his 
speculation, and I submit that it has been proved to 
be of no value. 

Let us now recur to, and try to choose between, 
the contradictory principles on which Sir John Lubbock 
relies in setting up his initial stage on the one hand, 
and demonstrating the progress therefrom on the other. 
The question raised is whether " the tribe had no right 
to a war-captive," so that her captor might easily 
appropriate her, or whether "the tribe had a right 
to her," so that he could as easily appropriate a woman 
of the group as a war-captive. 

This question must be answered by an appeal to 
the facts relating to the ancient practice of capturing 
women for wives, regarded in their bearing on the 
communal rights which, as Sir John asserts, at first 
everywhere prevailed. Of the practice of capture we 
know nothing, as regards the great majority of the 


ancient nations, except what we learn from the form 
of capture. The practice, then, must be assumed to 
have been what that form indicates. Now in ahnost 
all cases the form of capture is the symbol of a group 
act — of a siege, or a pitched battle, or an invasion of 
a house by an armed band ; while in a few cases only, 
and these much disintegrated, it represents a capture 
by an individual. On the one side are the kindred 
of the husband ; on the other the kindred of the wife. 
This is so manifest that it cannot be contradicted; it 
appears clearly from the examples of the form adduced 
in my paper referred to in the Preface to this work,^ 
which are classed as they represent sieges or battles or 
armed invasions. It also sufl&ciently appears from the 
collection of examples of the form furnished by Sir 
John Lubbock himself. Moreover, aU the cases we 
have illustrating the practice of capture in its transition 
to a symbolism, are cases of the same sort — actual 
conflicts, in which the woman is the prize of victory 
and the combatants are on one side the kindred of the 
man, on the other the kindred of the woman. Such 
are the cases recorded by Olaus Magnus, and such is 
the case of the Mirdites, of which Mr. Tozer has recently 
given an excellent account. Lastly, the facts of actual 
capture, as they appear both in ancient literature and 
among existing races, prove the same thing ; the captures 
usually occur in the course of raids upon enemies made 
by tribes or their war-parties. Even as capture is 

^ See Appendix to Primitive Marriage.. 


practised in Australia, the captures are usually made 
by two or more persons acting in concert. Our con- 
clusion must be tbat in the most primitive times, of 
which, through this symbol, we have a far-off reflection, 
the capture of women for wives was usually the act 
of a group or of a detachment from a group. 

But if women were commonly captured by the men 
of a group, or parties of them, and there was communism 
in women, I do not see how an individual who had 
captured " a beautiful girl " could appropriate her 
more easily than he could appropriate any beautiful 
girl of his own group for whom he had a fancy. War- 
captives being usually obtained by group-acts, or quasi 
group-acts, capture would be recognized as a regular 
mode of adding women to the group, subject to the 
customary rights of its male members ; and there would 
be no man in the group who had not exercised the 
communal right over women taken by others. If, in 
this state of affairs, one were to capture " a beautiful 
girl," and plead the capture as a reason why he should 
be permitted to keep her to himself exclusively, he 
would be met by the answer that he had been used 
to benefit by captures made by others, and so was 
bound to allow others to benefit by that which he had 
made. And I do not see that to this he could reply. 
The case would go against him in a court of strict 
justice ; tried by savages in a stage so low as we are 
asked to believe in — possession of "a beautiful girl" 
turning on the decision — it would be heard with im- 
patience and settled by force. "Men surely would 


reserve to themselves exclusively their own prizes," 
says Sir John. They might wish to do so, no doubtj 
but power is not always proportioned to inclination. 
It was not Achilles who got Chryseis. 

The correct view, then, seems to be that, granting 
communism and a practice of capture, the individual 
captor would have no exclusive right to a war-captive. 
Our conclusion must be that, even had there been 
proof of the general prevalence of what Sir John 
Lubbock has called the communal marriage system, 
the history he offers of" the disruption of that system 
•would have to be rejected. 

Were the practice of capture to give an individual 
captor a right to exclude the custom of the tribe as 
regards his captive, it would surely give a similar right 
to several joint captors as regards women taken by 
them. If, then, it led to individual marriages, it must 
much more frequently have led to polyandrous arrange- 
ments. In thinking of these, again, we may be sure 
that those entitled to have one or two women exclusively 
•to themselves would not forego the benefits of the 
custom, over all the women in the group, for this right 
— of the same communal type — over one or two. And 
we must ask, would the individual captor be likely to 
forego those benefits for the exclusive possession of 
one ? Unless he did so, there could be no commence- 
ment made of the training of the men in those habits 
which develop the sentiments that foster monandry. 
But if he did so, he would in effect be no longer of 
the group, even did he remain in it with his wife. 


whicli it is scarcely conceivable lie should, do, and. his 
example would accordingly be ineflfectual for the group's 

We have seen that Sir John Lubbock has not only 
failed to show that the initial stage of his scheme ever 
existed, but has failed also to make it in any the least 
degree probable that it ever existed. And we have 
farther seen that even had he shown that stage to have 
existed, he has failed to show, by reasoning that wiU 
bear examination, how it came to be departed from. 
With his explanation of the origin of monandry fall 
his explanations of the origin of exogamy, the practice 
of capture, female infanticide, and all the customs with 
these connected. 



In his recent work on Early Institutions, Sir Henry- 
Maine draws attention to tlie singular distribution of 
certain members of the old Irish family in four divisions. 
The reciprocal rights of succession of these divisions to 
each other's property is the subject of a number of 
regulations contained in the Booh of Aicill, and various 
scattered scraps of information regarding the divisions 
are to be found elsewhere in the first three volumes of 
the Senchus Mor. In the preface to the third volume 
of that work we find the following account of the 
divisions : — " The most .remarkable custom described 
in the Booh of Aicill is the fourfold distribution of the 
family into the ' geilfine,' ' deirbfine,' ' iarfine,' and 
' indfine ' divisions. . . . Within the family seventeen 
members were organized in four divisions, of which the 
junior class, known as the ' geilfine ' division, consisted 
of five persons ; the ' deirbfine ' the second in order, 
the ' iarfine ' the third in order, and the ' indfine ' the 


senior of all, consisted respectively of four persons. 
The whole organization consisted, and could only con- 
sist, of seventeen members. If any person was born 
into the 'geilfine' division, its eldest member was 
promoted into the ' deirbfine ' ; the eldest member of 
the ' deirbfine ' passed into the ' iarfine ' ; the eldest 
member of the ' iarfine ' moved into the ' indfine,' and 
the eldest member of the ' indfine ' passed out of the 
organization altogether. It would appear that this 
transition from a lower to a higher grade took place 
upon the introduction of a new member into the 
' geUfine ' division, and therefore depended upon the 
introduction of new members, and not upon the death 
of the seniors." 

This account seems correct, according to all the 
facts yet disclosed, except that, for " persons," " men," 
or " male persons," should have been substituted, and 
that, perhaps, it should have been stated that the 
organization might consist of fewer, though it could not 
include more, than seventeen persons. {Senchus Mor, 
vol. iii. p. 333.) 

Sir Henry Maine considers this strange arrange- 
ment to be "a monument of that power of the father 
which is the first and greatest landmark in the course 
of legal history." {Early Institutions, p. 216.) Any 
man of a sept, he thinks, might become a root from 
which might spring as many of these groups of seven- 
teen men as he had sons. " As soon as any one of the 
sons had four children, a full geilfine sub-group of five, 
persons was formed, but any fresh birth of a male 


child to this son, or to any of his male descendants, 
had the effect of sending up the eldest member of the 
geilfine sub-group, provided always he were not the 
person from whom it hod sprung, into the deirbfine. 
A succession of such births completed in time the 
deirbfine division j and went on to form the iarfine 
and the indfine." {Idem, p. 210.) The fifth person 
in the geilfine sub-group was the father of whom the 
other sixteen men in the organization were descend- 
ants, and Sir Henry thinks that this person always 
remained in that sub-group, and was its chief — " the 
geilfine chief" — or paterfamilias. The geilfine sub- 
group, consisting of the natural or adoptive sons (or 
descendants) immediately under the power of the father, 
was his " hand-family " ; the other groups consisted of 
the emancipated descendants, " diminishing in dignity 
in proportion to their distance from the group [i.e. the 
geilfine], which, according to archaic notions, consti- 
tutes the true or representative family." [Idem, p. 217.) 
Why the " hand-family " should consist of five persons 
only Sir Henry explains by a reference to Mr. Tylor's 
views on finger-counting, and to Jive being " a primitive 
natural maximum number " ; but he ofi'ers no explana- 
tion of the fact that the other divisions consisted of 
four persons each only, although he seems to have been 
impressed by the fact as remarkable, and says (p. 210), 
" The essential principle of the system seems to me a 
distribution into fours." 

The accounts we have from ancient writers of the 
habits and customs of the early Irish would justify a 

A A 


strong belief that they knew nothing of — could have 
known nothing of — the patria potestas or a family 
system at all resembling the Eoman. And the learned 
editors of the Senchus Mor (vol. ii. p. Iv.) state, as the 
result of their study of early Irish family law, that no 
trace of the patria potestas is to be found in that law, 
" The Irish law," they say, " demands for the mother 
a position equal to that of the father, and there is no 
trace of the exercise of that arbitrary power which was 
wielded by a Roman father over the members of his 
family." If, then. Sir Henry Maine had really dis- 
covered in the fourfold division of the ancient Irish 
family a proof that the patria potestas was formerly 
known to the Irish, the fact would be of the highest 
interest. It would show how little trust we should 
put in mere impressions drawn from recorded facts, 
and what a powerful instrument of research compara- 
tive jurisprudence is, compared with direct historical 
inquiry by means of records and documents. 

There are, however, overwhelming difficulties in the 
way of Sir Henry's explanations. Some objections to 
them, though by no means, in my opinion, the most 
important, he himself has seen and stated with his usual 
clearness and candour. 

1. The supposition that the geilfine division con- 
sisted of a father and four sons, or descendants real or 
adoptive, and that the father always remained in the 
division, is contrary to what is expressly stated; 
namely, that on any person "being born into the 
geilfine division [the division being full] its eldest 


member was promoted into the deirbfine." {Senchus 
Mor, vol. iii. p. cxl.) ^ 

2. Emancipation could but account for two divisions 
at the most — the emancipated and the unemancipated. 

The emancipated having once passed out of the 
power of the father, that power could not again be 
exercised on them. It must then have been by some 
other power than that of the father, that the men, 
supposing them sons of the head of the geUfine division, 
were grouped outside of the "hand-family," and made 
to pass on from group to group. Sir Henry has failed 
to indicate what that power was, or on what rule or 
principle it was exercised, and of course he has failed to 
account for there being four divisions. 

3. All the information we have respecting the 
divisions represents them as existing together as an 
organization. There is no authority for conceiving that 
all the members of the deirbfine, iarfine, and indfine 
divisions were originally members of the geUfine group ; 
or that a geilfine group could exist except in relation to 
the three other groups co-existing with it. The only 
case mentioned in which a man passed from one division 

^ How can the following passage be reconciled with the suppo- 
sition that the father of four sons or descendants forming, together 
with him, the geilfine division, was the geilfine chief 1 " That 
every one who is head or chief of the geilfine tribe be of the people 
of the tribe ; i.e. he is the head of the tribe before men, i.e. the per- 
son who is most experienced." {Senchus Mor, vol. ii. pp. 279-81.) 
If the chief were the progenitor of all the others, how could he fail 
to be of the people of the tribe ? But by the time this was written, 
the office of chief had become elective. 

A A 2 


to another occurred when a new man entered the organi- 
zation of seventeen men, and when, in consequence, a 
man had to go out of that organization ; so that the 
organization is assumed as complete abeady before the 
commencement of the transference of the seniors from 
division to division, and of the senior member of the 
indfine division "into the community." These are the 
only cases of transference for which there is authority. 

4. Emancipation would disinherit the emancipated ; 
but our knowledge of these divisions is mainly derived 
from the laws of succession to property which connected 
each of them with all the others. 

5. It is essential to Sir Henry's explanation that the 
geilfine division should be at once " the highest and the 
youngest." (See Early Institutions, p. 216.) It was 
unquestionably the youngest, as the indfine was the 
oldest. This is expressly stated, but I can nowhere find 
it called " the highest." It was certainly, as we shall see, 
the least-favoured division but one as regards successions, 
if, indeed, the law can be said to have shown a preference 
for one division over another.-' The editors of the Senchus 

1 Sir Henry says (ut supra, p. 216), "the geilfine group is 
several times stated by the Brehon writers to be at once the highest 
and the youngest." He gives no reference to passages in which 
this is stated, and I can only say, as I have said above, that after a 
careful search I have not found any such passage. As regards 
successions, he has plainly fallen into a misconception of his au- 
thorities. At p. 223, in endeavouring to assign the origin of 
" Borough English," he says — " It appears to me that the institu- 
tion [Borough English] is founded on the same ideas as those which 
gave a preference [in successions] to the geilfine division of the 


Mor, as we have seen, speak of the eldest member of the 
geilfine class as being " promoted " to the deirbfine, and 
clearly consider the " indfine " as the highest division ; 
for of the transitions from division to division they 
speak as, in every case, a " transition from a lower to 
a higher grade." {Senchus Mor, vol. iii. p. cxl.) 

6. The case is provided for, of the geilfine division 
becoming extinct and its property being distributed 
between the other divisions. The extinguishment of 
the " hand-family," with the " paterfamilias," by death 
DO wise affected the fourfold organization. Other men 
from the family stepped into the vacant places and 
formed a new geilfine division, related to the other 
divisions precisely as its predecessor had been. This 
clearly appears from the provisions of the code for the 
simultaneous extinguishment by death of the indfine 
and geilfine divisions. (Senchus Mor, vol. iii. p. 333.) 
Their property was to be divided in certain proportions 
between the iarfine and the deirbfine divisions, but on 
this condition, that "the whole number of seventeen 
men should then be forthcoming " ; which is explained 
to mean that the indfine division and the geilfine 
division should be instantly filled up anew by fresh 
men "out of the family if it were numerous enough 

Celtic family." But as clearly appears by the table, p. cxli. vol. 
iii., Senchus Mor, the deirbfine was the most favoured in successions, 
the iarfine next, and the geilfine third in order. The law had, 
indeed, no preference, and that the deirbfine fared so well was due 
to the fact that property (with trivial exceptions) descended from 
the higher divisions to the lower, and ascended only when it could 
go no lower. (See pp. 493-5,) 


for the purpose." If the seventeen men were not forth- 
coming, there was no partition of the property between 
the remaining divisions. In- that case it went to the 
nearest of kin. We thus see that the divisions did not 
contain the family, but were an organization within it 
composed of certain members of the family, whose 
places, when a division became extinct, could be filled 
up by other members of it. The organization need not 
have been more than temporarily deranged by the ex- 
tinction of the geilfine group. But if Sir Henry's view 
were correct, the whole organization should have coUapsed 
on the death of the paterfamilias and all the members of 
his "hand-family." 

These objections are fatal to Sir Henry Maine's 
account of the system. He has failed to throw light 
either on its purposes or its principles. He has made 
no single feature of it clear in the light of Eoman law, 
and, after all his ingenious reasonings, has left its main 
features as mysterious as he found them. 

What then was the real nature of this divisional 
arrangement? The fragment in the Book of Aicill 
which treats of it occurs under the heading " What is 
the reciprocal right among families % " Towards the 
close of the answer to this question there is a passage, 
apparently of later date than the rest, without bearing 
on the question discussed, but bearing directly on the 
constitution of the organization, and the rights, between 
themselves, of the members of the several "families." 
This passage, which is very obscure, is undoubtedly 


our chief authority on the matters it deals with. Sir 
Henry Maine's view of the divisions turns on an in- 
terpretation of it which must be put aside as incorrect ; 
and, so far, the way is clear for a fresh and wholly 
different interpretation. 

The passage referred to is an instance of the in- 
corporation in the text of " the opinion of lawyers " 
on a hypothetical case, which, to judge from other 
such cases scattered about in the code, may have been 
fanciful as well as hypothetical. All the same, it may 
be possible to gather from it what the lawyers under- 
stood about this family system. The case is strictly 
in two parts, which are run into one another, but may 
be put separately and presented thus : 

1. — "If the father is alive and has two sons, and 
each of these sons has a family of the full number, i.e. 
four, it is the opinion of the lawyers that the father 
would claim a man's share in every family of them, 
and that in this case they form^ [Irish and literally, 
there are"] two geilfine divisions." 

2. — "And if the property has come from another 
place, from a family outside, though there should be 
in the family a son or brother of the person whose 
property came into it, he [in the opinion of the lawyers] 
shall not obtain it more than any other man of the 

From the first part, which bears upon the genesis 

^ The words " they form " have clearly been adopted in the text 
on that reading of it which the editors, though not without hesita- 
tion, have followed equally with Sir Henry Maine. 


of divisional organizations, Sir Henry Maine has inferred 
that any man of a sept might become the root of as 
many divisional organizations as he had sons ; that 
as soon as one of his sons had four children, a geilfine 
sub-group of five persons was formed, and hence that 
a geilfine division consisted of a father and four sons. 
This is the interpretation which must be rejected. How 
then is the case to be construed ? 

The leading point of the opinion is that " the father 
would claim a man's share in every family of them" 
and it is added, as if it were consequential on that 
view, that " in this case' there are two geilfine divisions." 
What families are referred to ? They cannot be the 
two geilfine divisions, for the reference is in terms ap- 
plicable to several families and inapplicable to two ; and 
is, moreover, followed by a reference to these divisions 
as if they were distinct from, or only among the num- 
ber of, the families. For the same reasons the reference 
cannot be to the two families of the sons, apart from 
certain members of them forming two geUfine divisions. 
Remembering that a division is never mentioned 
except as co- existing with three others in an organiza- 
tion, may we not infer that if in this case there were 
two geilfine divisions, there must have been eight 
divisions in all 1 As the divisions are constantly called 
"families," and are specially so called in the heading 
to the fragment in which this case occurs, we should 
then have to conclude that the point of the opinion is 

1 If a father and four sons formed a geilfine division, what room 
was there for these qualifying words J 


that in the family of the father there would be formed 
two divisional organizations, and in all " eight families," 
in each of which the father would have right to "a 
man's share " — whatever that may mean. 

How does this view consist with the facts of the 
case ? A turning-point of Sir Henry Maine's interpre- 
tation is in the words " a family of the full number, 
i.e. four," which he correctly takes to mean four sons. 
Now this number is directly related to the number of 
divisions in a divisional organization, while it can be 
connected with the number of persons in the geilfine 
division only by the assumption, which we have seen 
to be unjustifiable, that the common . progenitor of the 
other members of the organization always remained in 
that division. The words, " a family of the full number, 
i.e. four," may have been used then in reference to the 
number of brothers needed as a basis for the fourfold 
organization. Let us follow this idea and see to what 
conclusions it will lead. 

What is contemplated is plainly the formation of 
divisional organizations within the family as derived 
from the father. There being two sets of four brothers 
each among his grandsons, it is clear that bases have 
been formed, in the opinion of the lawyers, for two such 
organizations. On the view I am putting, each brother 
in a set of four, whether he was abeady himself a 
father or merely regarded as a possible father, was 
assumed by them to represent a division or " family " ; 
the eldest, the indfine ; the next, the iarfine ; the 
third, the deirbfine ; and the youngest the geilfine. 


Altogether there were thus represented eight divisions 
or " families " (comprised in two divisional organizations) 
in each of which the father had right to a man's share. 

We need not now inquire what kind of property 
was vested in a division, or how or why it was vested ; 
but when we ask how the father could have such a 
right in the several " families," it is plain that the 
lawyers must have held him to be actually, as common 
senior to them all, or otherwise constructively, a member 
of each of the families. Again, the reasoning which 
would support this view would clearly constitute each 
of the two sons of the father a member of each of the 
four families which his sons represented. We are thus 
led to think that in the opinion of the lawyers there 
were abeady, actually or constructively, three men, 
related as father, son, and grandson, in each of the 
eight divisions. Assume that this gives us, so far, the 
true idea of the composition of the divisions, and it 
may be inferred from the analogies of the case that 
the fourth man in each division would be a son of the 
brother who represented it, and the fifth man in the 
geilfine divisions a grandson of the youngest brother 
in each set of brothers. We thus arrive at the con- 
clusion that the divisions formed in the way con- 
templated by the lawyers would each come to consist 
of a father, son, grandson, and great-grandson ; and in 
case of the geilfine division, of a father, son, grandson, 
great-grandson, and great-great-grandson ! Singular 
as this result is, it is directly deducible from the first 
branch of the case pronounced upon by the lawyers. 


when construed on tlie assumption that the words "a 
family of the full number, i.e. four," have reference to 
four brothers as presenting a basis for the formation of 
a divisional organization.' 

But all the authority there is on the subject goes to 
show that this singular inference gives a correct descrip- 
tion of the composition of the divisions. Besides being 
called "families" they were called "tribes," and the 
relationship connecting the members of a division was 
called geilfine tribe relationship. Now what this was is 
expressly stated. The editors of the second volume of 
the Senchus Mor expressly say (vol. ii. p. xlvi.) that the 
geilfine tribe relationship "was that of a father, son, 
grandson and great-grandson, and grandsons to the fifth 
generation, and in what was called the reverse line 
[? any other division] — i.e. the brother of the father and 
his sons to the fifth generation " ; and there is what 
seems to be a confirmation of this statement at vol. ii. 
p. 209, where the relations of a chief to the chief 
" next " to him are discussed.^ 

Sir Henry Maine, indeed, says (Early Institutions, 
p. 211) : " The Brehon writers speak of its [the geilfine 
division] consisting of a father, son, grandson, great- 

^ According to my interpretation the father is the most im- 
portant man in both of the organizations formed within his family. 
On Sir Henry Maine's view he was outside both, and the only one 
of the kindred omitted. Of this violence done by himself to the 
principle of the patria potestas Sir Henry justly remarks (p. 21 3), 
that it has no analogy in Roman law. 

^ Mr. W. F. Skene is of opinion that these divisions existed 
only in the families of the chieftain class. See his edition of 
Fordun, article on "Tribe Communities." 



grandson, and great-great-grandson, which is a con- 
ceivable case of geilfine relationship, though it can 
scarcely be a common one." If our reading of the 
passage under consideration is correct, it was, actually 
or constructively, the only one — when the division was 
full, i.e. when all its possible members were in being ; 
and this, moreover, enables us to see why a division 
should be called a " tribe." It consisted of the heads 
of four or j&ve families, lineally (or quasi-lineally) con- 
nected, i.e. of a man and three or four other's repre- 
senting the whole group of his descendants to the 
fourth or fifth generation. 

If we conceive one of the organizations, initiated as 
in the case pronounced upon by the lawyers, to be com- 
pleted (1) through the death of the father and his two 
sons, leaving a set of four grandsons in their places, each 
as the oldest member of his division ; and (2) through 
the filling up of the divisions by the birth of des- 
cendants to the several grandsons, the following table 
will then represent the organization : — 









Fathers and Brothers. . 





Sons and First Cousins. 





Grandsons and Second 





Great-Grandsons and 
Tliird Cousins. 




The seniors of the divisions are Aj, Aj, &c., the 
brothers who constituted the "family of the full 
number, i.e. four " ; and the other men in the divisions 
along with them respectively, are their first-born sons, 
grandsons, &c. : Ai is the eldest of the four brothers, 
Aa the next eldest, and A4 is the youngest. The 
following features of the system now become 
intelligible : — 

1. It is at once obvious why it is said "the geilfine 
division is the youngest and the indfine division is the 

2. We can see a reason why, as a rule, there should 
be four men only in a division, and why there should be 
a fifth man in the geilfine division. 

The age of marriage among the ancient Irish was 
seventeen years — the age for finishing fosterage. Thus 
Ai would be at least fifty-four years old before his great- 
grandson Di would be born ; and he would be between 
eighty and ninety years old before E4 could have a son, 
which would be the signal to Aj to " go out into the 
community." As a rule, then, there could be only four 
generations of men in existence at a time, and re- 
presented in the divisions. 

The fifth man — or rather boy — in the geilfine divi- 
sion must have been added to postpone the going out 
"into the community" of the senior of the indfine. 
When he went out, he became, as we shall see, a 
pensioner on his division, and were he to go out when 
E4 was born, he might be a charge on that division for a 
term of years. Before E4 could have a son, however, 


Ai would be a very old man. Indeed, the " going out " 
must have been rare. The law, however, provided for 
it, as it did for the divisions not being full, and even for 
their becoming extinct. Whatever the purposes of the 
organization were, the existence of the whole number of 
the seventeen men was not essential to them, and in the 
eye of the law a division existed so long as there was 
one man in it. (Senchus Mor, vol. iii. p. 333.) 

3. So far as the organization was an artificial institu- 
tion, it may have been a sufficient reason for limiting 
the number of divisions to four, that there were four 
men only in a division. More probably the reason was 
that four was, on the average, the full number of sons 
in a family. 

4. We have a clue to " the self-acting principle," as 
Sir Henry Maine aptly calls it, according to which the 
eldest member of each division passed into the next on 
a new man " coming up " into the geilfine division. 
Among the Irish the next brother, or other nearest 
male agnate next in seniority to a deceased chief, 
succeeded to the chieftaincy in preference to a son. 
We can therefore understand how they should provide 
for the succession of brother to brother, in order of 
seniority, in the headship of divisions, and, failing 
brothers, for the succession of cousin to cousin (of the 
same class) in order of seniority. It accords with this 
succession law that when Ai "went out," Aa should 
succeed to him as head of the indfine division ; that 
Ag should succeed Aa as head of the iarfine, and A^ 
succeed A3 as head of the deirbfine. But we saw that 


before Ai went out he would be very old. Before 
another "going out" could occur through the birth 
of a grandson to E4, the brothers Ai &c., would certainly 
be all dead, and the first cousins Bj &c., would be the 
heads of divisions. It would next be B/s turn to go 
out, and he would be succeeded in the headship of the 
indfine division by B2 as the cousin next in seniority ; 
and B2 being succeeded by Bs and Bg by B4 all the 
seniors would be promoted as before. By the fourth 
occurrence of such an occasion it would be D/s turn 
to go out ; if, indeed, before then the organization had 
not collapsed through the extinction of divisions and 
the Tffant of men to re-form them. 

The second branch of the case pronounced upon by 
the lawyers (see ante, p. 359) is more easily construed 
than the first. It points out that the men of a division 
shared equally the divisional property, whencesoever 
it came ; that the common law of succession, by which 
a man might have the whole of any property coming 
to him from his father or brother, was overridden by 
this law of the organization. It thus is indicative of 
the organization operating a departure from ordinary 
succession law, and we shall see reason for believing 
that it was primarily a device designed to have such 
an effect. 

The somewhat enigmatical terms in which this 
branch of the case and opinion is couchedT present little 
difficulty in the light cast on them by the interpretation 
of the first branch which I have suggested. If it be 


asked, for example, how could a member of one of the 
"families" have a father or brother in another, we see 
that that would happen were A2 to become head of the 
indfine, for there would then be in the iarfine his 
brother A3 and his son B2. Were A2 to be thereafter 
the last survivor of the indfine, three-fourths of his 
property would come to the iarfine division, and then, 
according to the opinion, his son B2 would get but " a 
man's share " of it, and no more. Again, on the view 
that the words "from another place, from a family 
outside," point to a family outside the organization, 
observe that there is but one son of any father in a 
division. If Aj had a fifth brother, younger than A4, 
and that brother were to die, leaving property, and 
without a son, his estate would fall to his brothers, 
and a share of it to each of the divisions ; and, in that 
case, the opinion of the lawyers says that the brothers 
would have to share their shares of it with their co- 
divisi oners. On the same view, the case of a man 
within the organization having property left to him 
by a father outside of it would have to be regarded as 
a case of adoption into the organization. 

It must be felt that our interpretation of this lead- 
ing passage in the Booh of Aicill still leaves this family 
arrangement mysterious and unintelligible. Grant that 
we have now a correct conception of the composition of 
a division, of the self-acting principle that promoted the 
seniors, of the reason for there being four men in each 
of three of the divisions, and a fifth man in the fourth 
the questions remain, Why were such organizations 


formed at all ? What were their functions ? Were 
tkey really formed within the family as composed of 
the descendants of a surviving ancestor, and if not, 
within what species of family were they formed ? ^ 

Let us see whether we caniiot obtain answers to 
some of these questions. 

That the divisional organization was one of the 
divisions of the Fine, or Sept,^ appears from a curious 
passage in the Book of Aicill (vol. iii. p. 489), which 
discusses the question frt>m whom a forced, exaction, 
as in payment of a penalty or fine, might lawfully be 
levied. Here the "seventeen men" are several times 
referred to as specially liable to such an exaction if 
levied on account, of the crime of any man connected 
with them, in terms which seem to iniply that every 
tribesman had, necessarily, a connection with a divisional 
organization which was liable for his defaults. In one 
place, the text, which as it stands reads as nonsense, 
must have been intended to indicate that the distant 
relatives of the criminal were liable for him only when 
the divisional organization was incomplete, or had 
collapsed — a reading which is confirmed by the text : 
"The four nearest tribes bear the crimes of each 
kinsman of their stock : geilfine and deirbfine, iarfine 

" * It is obvious that in the Irish code the words " family " and 
" tribe " have the most various significations, whether the confusion 
be due to the text or to the translators. 

^ I agree with Sir Henry Maine in regarding the Fine as the 
whole clan, or tribe of descent, holding together and deriving their 
descent from a common progenitor, known, or believed, to have 
existed in the remote past. 

B B 


and indfine." (Senchus Mor, vol. L p. 261.) Here 
the connection is disclosed between a tribesman, him- 
self not the member of a divisional organization, and 
the organization r'esponsible for him. It is sameness 
of stock. As the seventeen men were all of one stock, 
being brothers or brothers' descendants, the question 
arises, Who Were with them within the bond of a 
recognized cionsanguinity 1 If we can answer this 
question, We can define the sub-group of the Fine 
which a divisional organization specially represented. 
The editors of the second volume of the Senchus 
Mor remark (p. xlvi.) that the system of fosterage 
appears to have been connected with the " geilfine " tribe 
relationship. "It is mentioned," they say, " that the 
relations who were within this degree were those who 
received the children in fosterage." It plainly appears 
from this that " geilfine " tribe relationship — which we 
saw was defined as in the direct and in what was called 
the reverse line — ^was a general term for the relationship 
of the men in the organization ; and in this, if not in 
a more extended sense, we find the term used in the 
Corns Bescna (vol. iii. p. 41), where "ten sons" — not 
necessarily sons of the same parents — are spoken of 
as being in "the geUfine relationship," the hmitiDg 
term "tribe" being omitted. We may be sure that 
fostering did not take place between families that were 
in the direct lines of this relationship ; the families 
would belong to different generations, and be unable 
to render fostering services to one another. It took 
place, then, between families in different lines. But if 


it were limited to tlie families represented by the 
seventeen men, no one beyond a third cousin could 
be required to foster a child. All the evidence we 
have goes to show that fostering had a wider range 
than this; and in the Senchus Mor (vol. ii. p. 285), 
we find that the limits within which fostering might 
take place are declared to be the same as the limits of 
recognized consanguinity. " By consanguinity, i.e. the 
person who is so near him of his tribe as to foster the 
children which descend from him, if he should require 
it." We have thus an inference that geilfine relation- 
ship, in its broadest sense, was co-extensive with re- 
cognized consanguinity, and hence that the " geilfine 
tribe" was a term of double meaning— in one sense 
denoting the youngest division of a divisional organi- 
zation, in another, denoting the whole group of persons 
connected with such an organization, and who, in a 
special sense, acknowledged themselves to be kindred. 
The latter group was, I believe, the true "geilfine 
tribe," over which presided the geilfine chief — a person 
always of much importance, and who might even be 
the king of a territory. 

Recurring to the hypothetical case of the lawyers;, 
and assuming the two organizations which, according 
to the lawyers, would be formed among the descend- 
ants of the father, to have been completed as already 
described {ante, p. 359) after the death of the father 
.and his two sons, we see that kinship must have been 
recognized as far at least as sixth cousins and the eighth 

B B 2 


descent from the father or common ancestor ; ^ for the 
sons of the youngest members of the geilfine divisions, 
whose birth, whUe the organizations still existed, is 
contemplated, would be sixth cousins, and necessarily, 
as connected with the organizations, within the limits 
of the recognized consanguinity. Whether the lawyers 
were right or wrong in the opinion that there would, in 
the case supposed, be two geilfine divisions, this conclu- 
sion may be legitimately, drawn from their opinion. The 
same conclusion is even more unequivocally indicated 
by the fact that the old Irish named their relatives, as 
far at least as sixth cousins, in the third collateral line. 
(Morgan; Systems of Consanguinity, &c., p. 45!) It 
seems certain, then, that all the descendants of a 
common ancestor to the eighth descent, holding together 
on the same lands, were counted of one stock — to be 
in a special sense, kindred. But the conclusion cannot, 
I think, be avoided that aU connected with a common 
ancestor within nine descents were, in such a sense, 
kindred. The geilfine divisions connecting men of five 
generations, a man counting above him four generations 
of ancestors, would almost necessarily count below him 
four of descendants ; so that his own generation counting 
as one, there would be nine generations of relatives 
whom a man would think of as his kindred. This 
■view, if it be adopted, presents the Irish "kindred" 
as corresponding in all respects with the Welsh. 

The terms in which the excellent editors of the third 
volume of the Senchus Mor state the old Irish law as 

^ See Mmrn, chap. iii. v. 146. 


to fines and compensations are word for word applicable 
as a general statement of the old Welsh law. "The 
compensation and honour-price," they say (p. cxv.), 
"awarded in respect of any injury, were primarily 
payable by the wrong-doer, and received by the person 
injured ; but there existed a solidarite between persons 
standing in certain relations to each other, whereby 
parties [the family or kindred] strangers to the trans- 
action might be required to pay, or entitled to receive, 
a portion of the award." Who the " kindred " of any 
criminal or injured person were in the Irish case, they 
think unascertainable. Who they were in the Welsh 
case, we know; and it will be more readily credible 
that the limits of consanguinity recognized in Ireland 
were truly those we have mentioned, if it be found 
that those were the limits recognized among the Celts 
of Wales. 

The question, who were counted to be of the same 
stock with a criminal or injured person according to 
old Welsh law ? is discussed in the Ancient Laws, <&c., 
of Wales (vol. ii. p. 21), where the matter is introduced 
as follows : " Torwaith, the son of Madog, says that the 
right meaning of inquiry as to a stock is this — namely, 
when a relative is a refuser to the murderer of his share 
of the galanas [corresponding to the Irish Eric], and 
asking ' Whence the stock I am related to thee 1 ' 
Then it is necessary for the murderer to explain to 
him the stock from which he is derived, and his con- 
sanguinity." Here "stock" is equivalent to "common 
ancestor," as may be seen in the plaints of kin and 


descent {idem, p. 45), where the common ancestor is 
called "the holding stock." How far removed this 
ancestor might be appears {idem, p. 569) from the 
text, which says : " The parentage of a man includes 
his father, his grandfather, and his great-grandfather, 
and thence unto the ninth degree and descent they are 
called 'gerni'^i.e. relatives." This is confirmed by 
passages too numerous to be cited. "The chief of 
kindred " is, for instance, described as " the oldest 
efficient man in the kindred to the ninth descent" 
{idem, p. 517); a description recalling that of the 
geUfine chief given in the Senchus Mor, — " that every 
one who is head or chief of the * geilfine ' tribe be of 
the people of the tribe — the person who is most ex- 
perienced" {Senchus Mor, vol. ii. p. 281). But while, 
in Wales, the kindred thus comprised all descendants 
of a man to the ninth descent, it is noticeable that the 
only example given of the details of a "dispersed ga- 
lanas " represents the levy, in payment of the galanas, as 
assessed on the kinsmen rateably as far as sixth cousins 
only {Ancient Laws, &c., of Wales, vol. ii. p. 21); 
which would indicate a common ancestor in the eighth 
generation. Sixth cousins were, of course, as entering 
the divisional organizations, in Ireland assessed for fines 
on account of kinsmen of their stock. The Irish and 
Welsh cases are thus at all points parallel, even to 
the doubt, in both cases, as to seventh cousins, in the 
ninth descent, being, for practical purposes, within the 

In Wales, the " kindreds," with their chiefs, appear 


everywliere as the constituent units of the population. 
They were assessed to pay fines for their kinsmen's 
crimes, and they shared the compensations paid, for 
injuries to their kinsmen, as we know the Irish kindred 
did. It appears to me that we must believe that the 
" geilfine tribe," as an extended group, including 
divisional organizations, answered in every respect to 
the " kindred " of the Welsh ; and its chief— the geilfine 
cliief— to the " chief of kindred " among the Welsh. 

It is obvious that within the same Fine, or Sept, 
all the men of which derived a real or supposed descent 
from a very remote ancestor, there might be several 
" kindreds," or " geilfine " tribes, with common ancestors 
no farther removed than the ninth [or eighth] genera- 
tion. There might be as many divisional organizations, 
then, at the least within the Fine, as there were such 
kindreds. The hypothetical case, so often referred to, 
indicates that there might be more than one such 
organization within a kindred ; and assuming that there 
might, we see a meaning in the word nearest in the text 
which says that the four nearest tribes bear the crimes 
of all the kinsmen of their stock. In the kindred de- 
rived from the father mentioned in the hypothetical 
case, the descendants of each son of the father would 
he those for which the organization formed in his family 
would be specially liable. In one place, however, there 
is a distinction drawn between a middle kinsman and a 
kinsman in general, which shows that this meaning of 
the word, nearest, is doubtful. Kinship, in its widest 
sense, was co-extensive with the Fine ; middle kinship 


was that of the geilfine tribe or the kindred, and the 
"middle kinsman" was the man for whom "the 
seventeen" were liable. {Senchus Mor, vol. i. pp. 259 
and 273.) At any rate, we have the conclusion that, 
within a Fine, there might be at least as ' many divi- 
sional organizations as there were "kindreds" or geilfine 

The difSculties of levying on the Fine an assessment 
for the crime of a kinsman in general would be very 
great, if not insuperable ; and there would be an obvious 
convenience in arrangements for replacing the ancient 
tribal liability by that of kindreds, and even in im- 
posing, within a kindred, the liability on a small assort- 
ment of families, which bore it in respect of their 
possessing property specially liable for it, such as, the 
ancestral lands. But it can hardly be believed that 
divisional organizations were designed primarily, or 
solely, to bear the crimes of kinsmen. It is much more 
probable that the organization was (primarily) a device 
for regulating the possession of, and succession to, the 
property itself ; and this view is indeed forced on us by 
the case pronounced upon by the lawyers, which one 
can hardly read without perceiving that the commence- 
ment of an organization must have been accompanied 
by a sharing of property. Mr. W. F. Skene, with an 
instinct for the truth in that field of ancient history 
which he has most studied, seems to me to have come 
near the mark when he says, in the four lines he has 
published on this subject, that these organizations were 
designed to regulate the succession of the Flaith, or 


cWeftain class, to their orba, or inheritance lands. ^ The 
numerous texts which indicate that all the Septmen, and 
not merely those of the chieftain grades, had their place 
in "kindreds," or "geilfine tribes," represented by divi- 
sional organizations, make it impossible to believe that 
these organizations were known only to the Flaith, and 
affected only succession to landed estates. But it may 
well have been that such organizations had their origin 
among the Flaith, and had reference, at first, to the 
succession to landed estate only. It is not difficult to 
imagine that arrangements of such obvious convenience, 
as defining and limiting the liabilities of kinsmen for 
one another, if once successfully established among the 
superior classes, would, in time, be imitated by the in- 
ferior ; and the peculiar settlement of property, worked 
through a divisional organization, as may easily be seen, 
is nowise, in its nature, inapplicable to movable estate. 
Thus much at least is certain, that the most striking 
effect, if not the primary purpose, of a divisional or- 
ganization, was the regulation of succession to property. 

The rights of succession established between the 
divisions were as follows : — 

(1.) No such right opened to the property of any 

^ Mr. Skene has stated no grounds for this opinion, and I am 
unaware of his views of the composition of the divisions themselves. 
When he wrote, the third volume of the Senchus Mor had not yet 
appeared : he was ignorant that there were four divisions, and mis- 
took the indfine for the commonalty of the tribe. What he says is, 
" The law which regulated the succession of the Flaith to their own 
orba is somewhat intricate and obscure, and for this purpose they 
were grouped in three classes, called the geilfine, deirbfine, and 
iarfine." (See Fbrdun, article on " Tribe Communities.") 


division so long as any member of it lived. " All the 
' indfine ' division became extinct in this case ; but if 
any one of them had been in existence, he would take it 
[the property] when the other three divisions should not 
share it between them" (vol. iii. p. 333). 

(2.) When a division became extinct through the 
death of all its members, its property was divided into 
sixteen parts. If it was the "indfine" that became 
extinct, 12 parts went to the iarfine, 3 to the deirbfine, 
and 1 to the geilfine. If it was the " iarfine," 12 parts 
went to the deirbfine, 3 to the geilfine, and 1 to the 
indfine. If it was the "deirbfine," 12 parts went to the 
geilfine, 3 to the iarfine (next nearest ascending), and 1 
to the indfine. If it was the " geilfine," 12 parts went 
to the deirbfine, 3 to the iarfine, and 1 to the indfine. 
Thus, as regards succession, the " deirbfine " was the 
favoured tribe — if any can be said to have been 
favoured. It got 12 parts in two cases and 3 in one. 
The "iarfine " was the next most favoured, for it got 12 
parts in one case and 3 in two cases ; the " geilfine " 
the next, getting 12 in one case, 3 in one case, and 1 in 
one case. The " indfine," least favoured, got only one 
share in each of three cases. 

The law farther contemplated the simultaneous ex- 
tinction of two divisions, and divided their property 
between the other two on the same principles. On the 
failure of the geilfine and deirbfine divisions, three- 
fourths of their property passed to the iarfine, and one- 
fourth to the indfine ; on the failure of the indfine 
and iarfine, three-fourths of their property passed to 


the deirbfine, and one-fourth to the geilfine ; on the 
failure of the deirbfine and iarfine, three-fourths 
of their property passed to the geilfine, and one- 
fourth to the indfine; on the failure of the geilfine 
and indfine, three-fourths of the property of the 
geilfine passed to the deirbfine, and one-fourth to 
the iarfine, while of the property of the " indfine " 
three-fourths passed to the iarfine, and one-fourth 
to the deirbfine. For two possible cases of two divi- 
sions becoming extinct together there was no pro- 
vision made — the cases apparently not having been 
thought out. In none of the cases of two divisions 
failing did the distribution, according to this law, take 
place unless there were forthcoming men of the family 
to complete the organization. If that condition could not 
be complied with, the property went to the next of kin. 

How the property of a division was apportioned 
between its members we are not informed ; but I have 
inferred, from the hypothetical case, that it was shared 
equally among the members of the'division, which shows 
again that the geilfine was the least desirable division 
to be in. The common senior, on his going out " into 
the community," left behind him his share (see Senchus 
Mar, vol. ii. pp. 283-287), and when a man died, his share 
must have been equally divided among the survivors. 

The most simple way of regarding the rules estab- 
lished for the fourfold organization, in order to see how 
they operated as a succession law, is to conceive the 
organization to be started by four brothers, Aj, A2, &c. 
(see table, ante, p. 364), on the death of their father. 


leaving to them ancestral lands, whicli had come to him 
as next of kin, and which, at common law, they were 
entitled to divide equally between them. Thus regarded, 
the arrangement operated, in the first instance, as a 
settlement of the respective shares of the brothers on 
their heirs of line, the survivors or survivor of them, as 
far as great-grandsons. When a son Bi appeared, Aj 
shared the division lands with him ; when a grandson 
appeared, they were shared again between the father, 
son, and grandson ; and they were finally redistributed 
on the appearance of a great-grandson. After that, 
there were redivisions as the men in turn died, tiU, they 
being all dead, the land was shared, in the proportions 
specified, between the remaining divisions. The chief 
peculiarities of the system, it wiU be seen, are (l) that 
it stopped succession in the direct line, except in the 
geUfine division, at great-grandsons ; (2) that the prin- 
ciple of primogeniture appears in the formation of the 
groups of co-inheritors and parceners ; and (3) that a 
life-tenancy only was given to any heir. To compre- 
hend the working of the system, we must think of the 
four brothers as having had one or more brothers who 
shared with them the lands on the death of their father, 
but remained outside the organization. These, I conceive, 
were the men of the family who, with their descendants, 
or whose descendants, if they were dead, might, on the 
extinction of one or more divisions, enter the organiza- 
tion by forming new divisions. If the indfine, for 
example, became extinct, the iarfine would become the 
indfine in the re-formed organization, the deirbfine the 


iarfine, the geilfine, dropping the fifth man, would be- 
come the deirbfine, and the next eldest brother to A4, 
with his descendants, would become the new geilfine 
division. The new division would enter with a share 
of the ancestral lands equal to that possessed by the 
others, except so far as the others had their shares in- 
creased by the distribution between them of the lands 
of the indfine. And thus the organization would con- 
tinue, confining the lands to great-grandsons, till it 
collapsed through the extinction of two of the lines 
and the failure of men of the family to re-form it. 
The succession law acting no longer, the lands of the 
extinct groups would then go to the next of kin, and 
be subject to the common law of succession, whatever 
that was, till the lands were again re-settled by the 
formation of a divisional organization. 

It will diminish the surprise one may naturally feel 
in considering such an arrangement as this, to remember 
that, by the common law of the Irish tribes, the land 
which made up the Tuath, or possession of a tribe, 
consisted of two distinct allotments, — the fechtfine, or 
tribe land, and the (yrha, or inheritance land. The 
fechtfine land, when arable, was distributed at stated 
intervals among the ceile, or free members of the tribe, 
a redistribution taking place as fresh claimants for a 
share appeared ; and when pasture, was pastured in 
common. (See Skene, Fordun, vol. ii. p. 444.) The 
orba, or inheritance land, belonged as individual property 
to the men of the chieftain grades, and most probably 
came to exist as such, solely through being continually 


reserved to particular families iu the periodical distri- 
butions of the tribal lands. It would foUow, from such 
reservations having been often made, that the families 
in whose favour they were made — whose chiefs, indeed, 
made them — should come to regard the reserved lands 
as their special family property. On the first rise of 
such property, they would be without rules for regulating 
the succession to it, would be put to contriving such 
rules, and would almost certainly import into the rules 
they devised the principle of sharing to which they had 
been habituated in regard to the community lands — the 
fechtfine. Thus the share of the land coming to Ai 
came to be shared by him with his first-born son, 
grandson, &c., to the fourth generation. When on the 
death of the co-tenants in tail, so to speak, it left his 
family, it was shared with his brothers and their sons, 
grandsons, &c., the bulk of it going to his next younger 
brother's family. The portion going to any fanuly was 
again shared among the members of that family, That 
the brothers of Bj, or his sons other than Cj, should 
have no interest, or right of succession, in the lands, 
should not surprise us who are accustomed to entails 
and primogeniture. These men were at least better 
off than younger brothers among ourselves, for, as free 
men, they would be entitled to their shares of the 

The Welsh laws of succession to ancestral lands (tir 
gwelyawg) ignored any right of primogeniture, as, in^- 
deed, we must believe the Irish common law did — the 
divisional succession law being strictly of the nature of 


a settlement. When a tichelwr died, his hereditary land 
was divided equally among his sons ; on the death of 
the sons it was divided equally among the grandsons 
(first cousuis) ; on the death of the grandsons it was 
divided equally among the great-grandsons (second 
cousins). On the death of the great-grandsons, how- 
ever, there was no division among the great-great- 
grandsons (third cousins), but each family of them took 
between them the share that, under the last division 
(that between the great-grandsons), had fallen to their 
father. {Ancient Laws, &c., vol. i. p. 169.) The co- 
inheritors were thus, to the fourth generation from the 
man who left the lands, sharers on a principle which 
apphed no farther. Here the equal sharing between the 
sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons of the common 
ancestor, and the limit set to it, exhibit brothers and 
their sons and grandsons as groups of co-inheritors, 
according to a law which was as powerfully, though 
differently, affected by the principle of sharing applicable 
to the tribe land (tyr cyvriv), as the Irish divisional law 

But more curious and interesting, as bearing on the 
Irish divisional law, were the rules of succession to 
ancestral land in Western India. On the death of an 
owner of ancestral estate, his sons divided the land 
between them equally. When the sons died, the 
grandsons did not divide the land again between them 
equally, as in Wales ; the grandsons in any family 
shared between them the share that in the first division 
had fallen to their father. But the peculiar feature of 


the law was, that succession, according to some authori- 
ties, stopped at grandsons. The great-grandsons were 
not heirs at all to their fathers' shares of the ancestral 
lands, so that when a grandson of the original owner 
died, the land he had inherited went not to his own 
sons, but to the sons or grandsons of the brothers of the 
original owner. In default of persons entitled to inherit 
in the families of these brothers, it went to persons 
entitled to inherit in the second collateral line, and so 
on. According to other authorities, especially the author 
of the Vivada Chintamani and the author of the Mitah' 
shara, this peculiar stoppage of the right of lineal suc- 
cession took place not on the death of grandsons, but of 
great-grandsons. {Vivada Chintamani, Calcutta, 1863. 
Table of succession prefixed, and see pp. 237, ff.) On 
the latter view, this old Indian law arrested the right of 
succession lineally at the very point at which the Irish 
divisional law arrested it ; and, so far as it provided 
that the lands should, on the death of a great-grandson, 
go to the sons, grandsons, &c., of the brothers of his 
great-grandfather, it was the same law as that of the 
Irish divisional organization — the same, that is, apart 
from primogeniture as a feature of the latter, and the 
limitation of the number of divisions to four. And as 
regards this limitation in Irish law, it must be observed 
that its efiects were only temporary ; that it was a rule 
of the Irish settlements that ultimately, before the 
collapse of an organization — and, indeed, this was a 
condition of such collapse being averted — all the 
brothers and their descendants might enter the 


organization, and have the prospect of becoming heirs 
to the family estate. 

Kecurring, for the last time, to the opinion of the 
lawyers, from which the view I have given of the 
divisions of the Irish family has been spelled out, I ask 
whether, in the light that has now been thrown upon it, 
the interpretation I have given does not seem a sound 
one ? It presents the case of a man — probably an only 
son, to whom inheritance land has come as next of kin 
— rsettling the land on his descendants. Had he four 
sons, or more, the case would present no difficulty ; but 
he had only two ; there were, however, four sons to each 
of his sons, so that the peculiar customary settlement 
had become possible — possible, obviously, for his sons, 
at his death, when his property had been divided be- 
tween them ; and, in the opinion of the lawyers, possible 
for him to make in his lifetime, upon conditions essen- 
tially the same as would have arisen had the settlements 
been made by the sons. A simple arithmetical calcula- 
tion will show that it was immaterial to the father 
whether there should be two divisional organizations or 
one only — except so far a*s there being one such organi- 
zation only might involve leaving half of his property 
unsettled. In either case — the divisions getting equal 
shares of the land — he would be reserving to himself 
one-fourth of the whole land. It was material to his 
sons, however ; and indeed I do not see how, without 
violation of principle, the two sons. could enter the same 
organization. From the opinion, assuming its sound- 
ness, we learn that principle did not restrict the father 

c c 


to forming in his family one divisional organization only, 
that, viz., wMeh would be formed through the grandsons 
descended from the elder of his two sons as its basis — 
the younger son getting at common law, on the father's 
death, an equal share with the elder, but not subject to 
settlement. As the partition and settlement were 
voluntary acts of the father, we may believe that he 
would have been free — there could be no hindrance 
except in custom — to make two settlements or one, as 
he chose ; but if he wished to settle his whole property, 
and had fewer sons than four, it would seem that he 
had no choice but to form as many divisional organi- 
zations among his descendants as he had sons. That 
a man should share the inheritance lands with his sons 
and grandsons in his lifetime need not surprise us. 
The Indian law as to partition of inheritance land by a 
father in his lifetime shows that the partition, usually 
made with sons, might extend even to grandsons. 

I think it will now be felt that the Irish divisional 
system is no longer so mysterious or exceptional as it 
at first appeared. The view I have taken of it may be 
familiar to Irish scholars. Except so far as has been 
disclosed, I have written in total ignorance of the 
literature of the subject, if there is any — which, from 
the recentness of the publication of the Book of Aicill, 
seems improbable. What attracted me to it was its 
appearing to connect itself with the classificatory system 
of relationships, but with that, I am now satisfied, it has 
nothing to do. That the description of geilfine tribe 
relationship remained true, while brothers shifted from 


division to division, was the chief hint of classification ; 
but this feature was temporary, and in the geUfine 
division never showed itself, for in that the members, 
necessarily, always were a father and his heirs of line 
to the fifth generation. And this may b& the reason 
why the relationship of the whole group was named 
from the geUfine division.^ 

^ I may here, in a note, insert an explanation of the fact of the 
geUfine tribe, represented by "the seventeen men," being called 
"the hand-family" which I have some time fancied, or somewhere 
seen. If the reader, turning down the palm of his hand, will look 
at the back of the hand, holding down the thumb, he wiU see in the 
five joints nearest to him the geilfine division ; and in the next two 
series of joints and the tips of his four fingers, the deirbfine, iarfine 
and indfine divisions respectively 1 Of course the suggestion is that 
some humorous or fanciful Celt early observed this correspondence, 
and that thence came the name, which, after many centuries, has been 
lately adduced, with the support of much high Celtic scholarship, as 
a proof of the former existence of the patria potestas among the 
ancient Irish. 


Richard Clay & Sons, 


Bungay, Suffolk,